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Meet Smiljan Mori | Behind the Suit

Smiljan Mori is a businessman, author, coach, and consultant to top performers from all walks of life. His business successes are legendary, including the founding and building of one the largest and most successful insurance brokerage company in Central Eastern Europe: the Mori Agency. 

He is also the creator of Top Success Club, the leading e-learning platform with more than 1000 hours of quality e-courses and lectures by more than 50 world-renowned experts.

His speaking credentials include an ongoing count of more than 300,000 attendees to presentations in more than 50 countries.  He has more than 20 years of experience in direct sales. He trained thousands of people in the direct sales industry, network market industry, insurance industry and bank industry.

 

MEET THE FOUNDER OF THE MORI AGENCY

1. How you came up with the business idea for The Mori Agency? Tell us the first three things you’ve done to turn it into facts.

How did I get the idea to start a company? It was actually very simple. One day my friend “accidentally” invited me to a seminar. If I had known that the seminar was going to be about insurances, I probably would not go, since I had no intention of ever working in the industry.

Then, I was working as a criminal police officer at the Ministry of the Interior and as an apprentice at the Supreme Court in Ljubljana. For that reason, sales and especially sales of financial products were everything but my dream job.

Things changed at that seminar because I felt that it could become my mission. It might sound strange and funny, but the main reason was that I didn’t like getting up very early in the morning and knowing that working in the general government sector would involve working from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. for the rest of my life, it did not go hand in hand with my dream job definition.

I wanted a career, I wanted freedom and that is how I decided to start an insurance agency without a penny in my pocket. My mother lend me money for gas when I started going to the first seminars.

Now, after 20 years, I can honestly say that I have made the best decision possible.

Also, when I started selling my fist insurance and financial products, I realized that I am really good at motivating people and training them for sales. Therefore I started with motivational and sales seminars, which later grew into business coaching.

Throughout my career I have written almost 10 books, coached many well-known people, including Olympic winners, professional athletes, top business people and managers.


2. Name one situation that made you want to quit.

When I started with organizing my seminars, writing books and sales coaching, and even though things had not gone as planned, I have to say that I never thought about giving up.

Of course I was disappointed because I did not earn as much as I had expected. Also, there have been more expenses than I thought and if I had known what it would be like, I wouldn’t probably start in the first place.

Nevertheless, I never thought about quitting. When I set a goal, I stick to it until I reach it.

It was probably helpful that I did not receive any support from my father who threw me out of our house when he found out about my decision to quit working in the  general government sector and opted for insurances and coaching. Those circumstances motivated  me even more. 

 

3. Name one situation that made you want to go forward.

When I started selling financial and insurance products, people had problems deciding on buying the products or not. But when they ended up extremely satisfied after we closed the deal, it motivated me to go on.

Also, when I first started my seminars, there were people who told me that nobody will come. My first seminar was visited by over 280 people which gave me a real boost. By now, I have had more than 300,000 people coming to my seminars.

 

4. What do you think are the most difficult challenges entrepreneurs have to face in the Slovenian market nowadays?

When people strive to reach their goals, ideas or visions, they often find themselves in a non-supportive environment.

Slovenia, in my opinion, is a country where entrepreneurs wanting to start a company find themselves challenged by long bureaucratic procedures, the market is limited and small, since there is only 2 million inhabitants.

Also, when they try working outside the borders, it isn’t simple to get started either, because many internet providers do not consider Slovenia a serious contender.  


However, the biggest challenge for entrepreneurs and companies is not their environment. It is the way they think, what they believe in, their lack of courage and self-confidence, perseverance and will.

When I ask businessmen in my seminars to enumerate what they need to succeed, these are the key points they make. Rarely, they start with points such as good marketing, well-regulated legal system, good products, etc. They talk about courage, will, perseverance, ideas and inspiration. 

 


5. Investment matters. If you would invest in something else but your actual business. What would that be?

I would invest in technologies, especially online technologies. During the last year I invested a lot in social media.

I have over 380,000 followers on my personal Instagram profile and also on Facebook Fan Page. On Instagram we own a network with over 2.5 million followers.

In a way I also invest into things that do not bring money straight away but help me create my personal brand in the long run.

 

6. If you could change something about Slovenian’s Entrepreneurs Community to improve it in any way what would that be?

If I had that option, I would definitely make it possible for entrepreneurs to open new companies with less paperwork. Also something must be done about payment discipline, which is still on a very low level in Slovenia.

 

7. What is The Mori Agency bringing to the art market, that is different compared its competitors?

Every businessmen needs to strive to be as unique, innovative and different as possible in the market. They also need to stay authentic in order to become as influential as possible. When we talk about the Mori Agency, which specializes in selling financial products, we can definitely say that we are unique in our recruitment system.

Our onboarding system of new agents is extremely different from others in the industry. Financial and insurance industry is quite rigid, therefore we have implemented many trainings that include personal growth, motivation, inspiration, setting goals and activities, happiness, and other “soft touch” skills that help agents become more productive.

Also, my training seminars show our uniqueness, where I dedicate 80% of the time to mindset and 20% to acquiring skills. I do the same when I talk to entrepreneurs and focus on the way they think, their rituals, habits and on increasing productivity.

 

MEET THE MAN #BEHINDTHESUIT

1. Name one good habit that helps you deal with your active life.

Exercise. 19 years ago, when I started with insurance business, I was out of breath after reaching 2nd floor of our building. There and in that moment I decided that I will never be out of shape again. Even when I’ll turn 50 I will be in a better shape than I was back then. I feel good about my body, I have a lot of energy and I exercise 6 times a week.

 

2. Name one bad habit you can’t quit.

This is a very good question. The answer is coffee. I did not drink coffee for many years. Once I started, I drank too much coffee every day. It was my favorite habit. Only a few days ago I decided to stop. I don’t need coffee for more energy. Wish me luck. 

 

3. If you could be anything else but an entrepreneur what would you be?

I would be a professor. Actually, I would be a professor of positive psychology or neuroscience. I have certificates in both subjects and I use my knowledge in everyday life and business.

 

4. You are the founder at The Mori Agency, what is the favourite movie of the man who founded it?

I have to admit that I don’t watch movies. I don’t want to insult anyone, but for me, movies are a waste of time. I read a lot.

I read a lot of books every year, that’s why it will be very hard to answer question number 5. I actually like documentaries about successful people like Gandhi. They inspire me.

 

5. Tell us your favourite book. What’s the best thing you learned from it?

I probably read more than 10 000 books so it’s hard to pick one. One book that totally turned my life around was Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers. It made me realize that people with the most difficult stories can become highly successful.

I have to mention Joseph Murphy’s The Power of your Subconscious Mind because it thought me that our life depends on the way we think and our mindset. As an entrepreneur, I learned a lot from The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber. 

 

6. Name the most important value that you believe in.

Honesty. In personal and professional life. We need to be honest with our partners, clients and employees. I like facts. People need to know that we are honest and fair. This is one of the reasons why I’m successful.

 

7. If you could compare your journey as an entrepreneur with a song what song would you choose?

We are the champions by Queen. I believe that we are all champions. Some people just need to find a champion within themselves. This song really helps me go through difficult times.

 

8. Tell us the best experience you had while working to build The Mori Agency.

This question is quite complicated. I would say that the best experiences were those that made me stronger and even more determined. Normally, they come when we fail at something. From these situations, we are able to learn the most and…

…I believe that rejections, failures, and defeats made me stronger and more experienced. Therefore, these are the experiences that I am most grateful for.

 

9. If you would give our readers one piece of advice from your entrepreneurial experience, what would that advice be?

I could give you lots of advice but I will focus on something very important. Many entrepreneurs say that their company is their family. I was one of them but in the last year, I learned this:

My business is not my family. My family is my business. What does this mean? Never forget about your family, your personal life and your free time. You own your business! Your business should not own you! Your family needs you and you should never forget that.

Meet the founder of Antal Risk Ventures | Behind the Suit

He set up his own business and named the company Antal – Hungarian for ‘Anthony’, in 1993. Since then, Tony and his team have developed substantial businesses in some of the most challenging emerging markets across the globe, such as Russia, India and China. All that, through a mix of wholly-owned operations, franchises and joint ventures.

 

MEET THE FOUNDER & CEO OF ANTAL RISK VENTURES 

1. How you came up with the business idea for Antal Risk Ventures?

I came up with the idea for Antal International in 1992 when I was reading the Financial Times and general business press and saw how much investment (and general interest) was going into the newly opened Central & Eastern Europe markets by the likes of Microsoft, Compaq Computers, Hewlett Packard, Procter & Gamble, GE Electric, Unilever, Mars etc. There were Western government sponsored programs (PHARE) ploughing $billions into the region to ensure that it didn’t revert back to the old communist style regimes.

 

2. Tell us the first three things you’ve done to turn the idea into facts.

1. I started looking/ advertising/ networking and searching for people who had western qualifications that could speak hungarian, czech, polish and russian;

2. I hired my own consultants with those languages skills from all my research;

3. I started travelling to Warsaw, Prague, Budapest and Moscow in 1993/94, to check out how easy or not it was to do business there. This was an amazing time and I realised that the whole of CEE was undergoing a once in a lifetime transformation. I was so excited to be part of what was happening.

 

3. Name one situation that made you want to quit.

I wanted to quit in 2002/03 when we had a market crash in IT recruitment and we had to downsize from 22 offices to 12 and from 429 employees to 160. Fortunately we were also able to recruit into other disciplines too, but this was a really tough time. I had to remortgage my house and sell my Aston Martin car in order to support the business, and that was almost not enough. Very stressful indeed.

 

4. Name one situation that made you want to go forward.

I struggled on and continued partly because I had to keep going, I had no choice, really (like losing my food & supplies rowing across the Atlantic at the half-way point, no point in going back).

Also, I realised that we had created something unique and distinct that was worth persevering with. The Antal Brand had become firmly established as THE developing markets recruitment brand. 

 

5. What do you think are the most difficult challenges entrepreneurs have to face on english market nowadays?

Uncertainty surrounding Brexit and, as always, hiring the right people for our profession. Hiring good talent is our profession and building teams is one of the hardest parts of the job, even today with over 1,000 staff in 35 countries and 140+ offices.

 

6. Investment matters. If you would invest in something else but your actual business, what would that be?

I have invested in many businesses outside of my main recruitment business, most of which have failed, so now I only invest in my business/industry or directly related to it.

If I could have my time over again, I would probably have invested more of my capital into property in prime or up and coming locations. This is easier to manage than service businesses.

That said, I still love the challenge posed by building and creating something from nothing in our industry.

 

7. If you could change something about UK’s Entrepreneurs Community to improve it in any way what would that be?

I believe that in the UK we have a brilliantly vibrant, flexible, open and positive environment to foster and nurture start-ups.

I think we may need to put more warnings about the ability to take on the inevitable challenges and have less of an expectation of success.

 

8. What is Antal Risk Ventures bringing to the market, that is different compared its competitors?

As a recruitment company (or business services) we are far more integrated than the rest of our competitors with the ability to “share information, knowledge and experience on behalf of our clients, candidates and colleagues” better than any other recruitment company in the world.

 

MEET THE MAN #BEHINDTHESUIT

1.Name one good habit that helps you deal with your active life.

I’ve always been a sports oriented and active person, going to the gym regularly, running four half marathons in the last three years and so on. Most recently I’ve gotten into cycling so I cycle to work most days (11 miles round trip) and go to my gym with my family to do Blaze exercise classes, which keeps me clear headed.

 

2. Name one bad habit you can’t quit.

Watching box sets late into the night which upsets my sleeping pattern; my all-time favourites are Sopranos, The Wire, Narcos, El Chapo, Game of Thrones: Ozark, The Affair, MindHunter and some others.

 

3. If you could be anything else but an entrepreneur what would you be?

I would love to have been a terrific professional sportsman in any field, but football and tennis would have been my top choices although I wasn’t particularly good at either. However, post that career, I am sure I’d have gone on to do something entrepreneurial afterwards, it’s just in my blood and my DNA.

 

4. You are the founder of Antal Risk Ventures, what is the favourite movie of the man who founded it?

There are so many good movies but pushed to choose, would be The Big Short, Inception or All the Money in the World.

 

5. Tell us your favourite book. What’s the best thing you learned from it?

I read so many autobiographies of famous entrepreneurs and businessmen 20 years ago that I realised no-one really knows what the true ingredients of success are and that they cannot be replicated time after time.

I loved Warren Buffet’s ‘Shoe Buckle Principle’ which is about the fact that if you are good at capturing one market, doesn’t mean you know everything about anything else.

 

6. Name the most important value that you believe in.

Integrity. Antal has done business in some of the most difficult countries & markets on the planet and have done so without offending any laws or regulations by doing things properly, legally and fairly. I consistently say that we don’t ‘do dodgy’ deals or aren’t things that are a straight-forward honest transactions. That hasn’t always been reciprocated by the people we have dealt with!

 

7. If you could compare your journey as an entrepreneur with a song what song would you choose?

Swedish House Mafia – ‘Don’t you worry Child‘ (Heaven’s got a plan for you).

 

8. Tell us the best experience you had while working to build Antal Risk Ventures.

The totality of the 25 year journey; the pain and pleasure of going to some of the most interesting and challenging countries in the midst of their great economic upheaval’s that have ever occurred to them; China; Russia & India to name, but a few of the 35 we have offices in and the other 30+ I’ve visited on business.

 

9. If you would give our readers one piece of advice from your entrepreneurial experience, what would that advice be?

Don’t take no for an answer, ask why, then change your product or service offering accordingly, then be relentless.

 

Meet the founder of FightHoax | Behind the Suit

Valentinos started his very own mobile app startup and developed it all by himself at the age of 18. Magazines such as Forbes say that he has the ‘mark of a true entrepreneur’.

He is a proud awardee of the 25Under25 title of the Internet Society organization. Valentinos has talked numerous times at the Greek Parliament, the European Parliament, South by SouthWest, London School of Economics and various entrepreneurship events all around the world.

Now, at the age of 20, Valentinos created the angel-invested FightHoax, in order to reduce the mass misinformation spread and empower news analysis and data journalism with Artificial Intelligence and Big Data.

 

MEET THE FOUNDER & CEO OF FIGHTHOAX.COM

1. How you came up with the business idea for FightHoax.com?

The US elections got the world shaken up. Hoaxes started to emerge from everywhere. Macedonian teenagers started their own fake news outlet and earned thousands from it. We hit all-time high records so I was really disturbed by all these hoaxes and fake facts.

People tend to believe anything nowadays.

So, one day I sat down and said to myself:
“Can I create something that analyses what you are reading and extracts the important points to the user?”
“Can I build an automated algorithm to answer if what you are reading is real or just false?”

At first, it seemed really-really impossible. Even humans can’t agree on what is false or true. But I realized that machines with no feelings can judge some aspects better than humans. For example, what if the website which is hosting the news article has a suspicious history and is known for posting fake news?  Human tend to ignore hoaxes that agree with their own beliefs.

 

2. Tell us the first three things you’ve done to turn the idea into facts.

First, I locked myself in my house for more than 13 days, just to fix a bug. At first, I talked to more than 100 journalists, fact checkers, developers and academic teachers just to ask them questions about media literacy, fake news, propaganda and more.

Work, work, work.

 

3. Name one situation that made you want to quit.

As I had described before, one single bug made me go nuts and stay in the house for more than 13 consecutive days. It was crazy. I get obsessed with things like this!

 

4. Name one situation that made you want to go forward.

My girlfriend. I have hidden a comment in my code that’s just about her, to remind her the help she gave me.

 

5. What do you think are the most difficult challenges entrepreneurs have to face on greek market nowadays?

Misery. Misery is a lot worse than poverty and I can’t really stand it. Most of the people have given up on fighting for a better future, here in Greece. It is time to change that!

 

6. Investment matters. If you would invest in something else but your actual business. What would that be?

I would invest in people with great attitude and big goals in life. I am going for the long-term goals in my life.

 

 

7. What is FightHoax.com bringing to the mobile development market, that is different compared its competitors?

FactMata is a cross-checking algorithm that it can ONLY verify statistical/numerical facts. Static databases and community users manually score facts. Wikitribune is like Factmata but without the tech element. Community users and journalists manually verify news stories.


FightHoax is the only startup doing full News Analysis and can detect fake news articles with an accuracy of 89%. Any article, any fact. We provide a rounded perspective, not a fake. Imagine that in Google’s hands.

 

MEET THE MAN #BEHINDTHESUIT

1. Name one good habit that helps you deal with your active life.

Listening to music for hours. I have to spend a lot of hours on my own just to meditate and talk to myself. In this way, I keep myself focused and I “clean” the bad thoughts.

 

2. Name one bad habit you can’t quit.

I eat a lot of fast-food. On the other hand, I do love walking, swimming, skiing and playing tennis but I need to hit the gym, too.

 

3. If you could be anything else but an entrepreneur what would you be?

I would love to be an artist and a musician but just for myself. I love expressing myself, deeply.

 

4. You are the founder of FightHoax.com, what is the favourite movie of the man who founded it?

A beautiful mind. I really love movies inspired by real-life scenarios of genius people that wrote history.

 

5. Tell us your favourite book. What’s the best thing you learned from it?

The first book that I have ever read was a book about hacking called “XSS Attacks“. It completely changed my view of the Internet, back when I was just 15.

 

6. Name the most important value that you believe in.

In a company, your business partners come first. They have to be happy in order to feel happy on your own.

 

7. If you could compare your journey as an entrepreneur with a song what song would you choose?

The Imitation Game Soundtrack.

 

8. Tell us the best experience you had while working to build FightHoax.com.

Working with a great team is the best part of being in business. I was lucky enough to find great partners to work with me and every meeting or beer is just priceless.

 

9. If you would give our readers one piece of advice from your entrepreneurial experience, what would that advice be?

Get ready to risk everything, stand on your own and become homesick. It is an interesting journey that many do not get through these obstacles.

 

Meet Vladimir Vulic | Behind the Suit

Vladimir Vulic is a strategist from Montenegro who is in constant pursuit of challenging the status quo. He’s a management, innovation, and social media consultant who has done work for clients such as The Coca-Cola Company (Serbian Operations), Trebjesa Brewery Nikšić (a Molson Coors Company), Crnogorski Telekom (a part of Deutsche Telekom group), Government of Montenegro, UNDP Montenegro, British Embassy Belgrade (Serbia), British Council Montenegro and more others.

Vladimir is the co-founder of NGO Digitalizuj.me, a digital community helping citizens and organisations in Montenegro to understand and realize exciting new opportunities for social change and business in the digital environment.

For 12 years, Vladimir has been teaching Strategic Management at the University of Montenegro, the leading economics and management education institution in Montenegro with 5,000 undergraduate and graduate students. He was a keynote speaker in 15 countries across 3 continents.

He is a TEDx speaker, including a talk at TEDxZagreb in front of 1,000+ attendees. His talks explore the intersection of technology, strategy, leadership, innovation, and change.

 

MEET THE CO-FOUNDER OF DIGITALIZUJ.ME

1. How you came up with the business idea for me?

It was a meeting of people with similar interests and a strong internal drive. I met my first co-founder, Predrag Lesic, in 1997, in the early days of my first online entrepreneurial venture – he was the first person ever to support my business idea. I met my second co-founder, Natasa Djukanovic, in 2010 at LeWeb conference in Paris.

The three of us strongly believe the Internet is a magic technology which allows people to reach their full potential. We started meeting regularly, and we felt we could make a positive change in the digital community in Montenegro. So, in the autumn of 2011, Digitalizuj.me was born!

 

2. Tell us the first three things you’ve done to turn the idea into reality.

1) Registered a domain name, and set up a website at www.digitalizuj.me;

2) Published the first blog post;

3) Organised the first digital community meetup.

Your Brand Minds 2018 speaker, Seth Godin, likes to say that “real artists ship”. What he means is that entrepreneurs don’t wait – they get it out the door and they make things happen. It was important for us to ship Digitalizuj.me as fast as possible.

 

3. Name one situation that made you want to quit.

I never really thought of quitting. My team likes to say that my superpowers are boundless energy and enthusiasm. They have an internal joke that my life motto is “Never give up!”, even though I never actually said that.

However, every business has its ups and downs and every person, myself included, has its bad days.

Failing at a project, not getting the results I expect, or failing to get support from key stakeholders can sometimes make me feel under the weather. But seeing my team’s passion and hustle and the growth of Montenegro digital community, always reminds me why we started doing this in the first place.

 

4. Tell us the best experience you had while working to build NGO Digitalizuj.me.

Digitalizuj.me started small but in time we successfully implemented many exciting and innovative projects in collaboration with some big partners, including UNDP Montenegro, Crnogorski Telekom (a part of Deutsche Telekom group), Coca-Cola Hellenic, Telenor Montenegro, Trebjesa Brewery Nikšić (a Molson Coors Company), and Eleven Ventures.

The defining moment for Digitalizuj.me as an organisation was in December 2015 when we became the implementing partner of Youth Innovation Lab in Montenegro, called „Kreaktivator“, a UNICEF initiative funded by ING, and implemented in cooperation with the Ministry of Education, and Ministry of Sports. The Lab was the sixth of its kind in the world at the time of its founding.

The Lab represents a collaborative incubation accelerator that connects young people with government institutions, universities, private sector, NGOs and civil society to create sustainable solutions to the most pressing challenges facing youth.

It offers space, tools, opportunities and programmes which will enable young people to develop and implement solutions to the challenges they face, gain support for realisation of their aspirations, gain social and emotional skills, as well as use participation tools to influence decision-making processes.

It’s an incredibly rewarding feeling to know we were a part of that.

 

5. What do you think are the most difficult challenges entrepreneurs have to face on Montenegro market nowadays?

When you’re living in a very small country like Montenegro, the world can start to look a bit one-sided after a while. You get cocooned and accustomed to one way of living and thinking.

 

That is why it is important to “move” often, both physically and mentally – and you can do that either by travelling and/or by reading. I think our entrepreneurs could do a better job on both fronts.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb, a Lebanese-American essayist, scholar, and a former trader and risk analyst said that “the three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary”.

I believe that our addiction to a monthly salary is a significant challenge to a more dynamic and growth-oriented entrepreneurial ecosystem. It’s not easy getting people to believe in your vision, but that is even more challenging when you are part of a system that appreciates job security and stability first, even if they are only illusory.

We need more people that are willing to take risks and bet on themselves.

 

7. Investment matters. If you would invest in something else but your actual business, what would that be?

I don’t consider myself to be an investor. Apart from investing in stock markets, I haven’t done any investing in ventures I was not personally involved in. If I was to invest in a business, it would have to be something that has a positive impact on the community.

 

8. If you could change something about Montenegros entrepreneurs community to improve it in any way what would that be?

Unfortunately, I don’t have a magic wand I could use to improve the situation in an instant. It’s a process, but one that can give great results if we start now. I’ve spent 12 years teaching at the University of Montenegro, and Digitalizuj.me has an extensive experience in planning, organising, and delivering educational programs.

I really believe in the transformative power of education. My idea would entail a change in the education system – teaching curiosity and restlessness, accompanied with grit and resilience, to the new generation of entrepreneurs.

We should be teaching “less economizing and Excel, and more exploration and experimentation”, as Alf Rehn, business thinker and my dear friend, likes to say. We need to encourage entrepreneurship, and help people make things change for the better. What’s the scarce resource today? “The ability to ship”, as your Brand Minds 2018 speaker Seth Godin points out.

 

MEET THE MAN #BEHINDTHESUIT

1. Name one good habit that helps you deal with your active life.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a superhuman healing factor like Wolverine, so, I try to get enough sleep, which helps me deal with everyday stress. And it certainly helps that I instantly pass out in a car, plane or train.

 

2. Name one bad habit you can’t quit.

I eat too much sweets (cakes, crêpes, chocolate, candy and so on), and I drink too much soft drinks.

 

3. If you could be anything else but an entrepreneur what would you be?

This is an easy one. As a lifelong Partizan Belgrade supporter, I would be an executive at my Club. The hard part would be deciding between the football and the basketball club.

 

4. What is your favourite movie?

I’m an avid movie watcher and I have a lot of favourite movies. But, there’s only one that has a special place in my heart – Star Wars, an epic space opera about the eternal struggle of Good versus Evil. As a kid, it helped me learn the difference between Light and Dark, right and wrong.

 

5. Tell us your favourite book. What’s the best thing you learned from it?

When I was a kid, my favourite book was “Treasure Island” by Robert Louis Stevenson. Reading a story about pirates and buried gold helped fuel my entrepreneurial spirit. It was much later on that I found out what Steve Jobs said at a retreat with his original Macintosh team: “It’s better to be a pirate than to join the Navy.” The Mac team proudly waved their pirate flag over Bandley 3 building.

I was a first year Economics student when I read “What They Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School” by Mark H. McCormack, the founder of International Management Group (now IMG) and the man who is widely credited as the founder of the modern-day sports marketing industry.

McCormack provides a mix of “street smart” pearls of wisdom and business anecdotes. This was the first book that really got me interested in business. Even though it was written in 1984, it remains an absolute gem that every entrepreneur and manager needs to read.

 

6. Name the most important value that you believe in.

Curiosity leads us down new paths. Even if you don’t have the skills needed, you can learn anything if you’re curious enough.

In the ever-changing business environment it is important to be curious, and never to stop questioning things. You need to challenge the status quo.

 

7. If you could compare your journey as an entrepreneur with a song what song would you choose?

My favourite is “Remember the Name”, by Fort Minor, because of these lyrics:

“This is ten percent luck, twenty percent skill;
Fifteen percent concentrated power of will;
Five percent pleasure, fifty percent pain;
And a hundred percent reason to remember the name.”

 

8. If you would give our readers one piece of advice from your entrepreneurial experience, what would that advice be?

In my first entrepreneurial venture, as a first year student, I made a rookie mistake of not documenting anything. I have just one photo with my team from the early days, and just two screenshots of the fourth and fifth version of our product.

So, I’ll skip any words of wisdom, and go with a simple advice – take photos, and take them often.

On your entrepreneurial journey don’t forget to take photos of you, your co-founders, your team, your early days in the office, your lunch breaks, your parties, your sketches and prototypes, screenshots of beta versions of your products… Later on, you will appreciate having these memories – no matter what happens to your venture.

Meet Franck Vinchon | Behind the Suit

Franck has been working for more than 18 years across multiple countries. He covered many fields in communication and marketing industry filling positions that were dedicated to strategy and management. Some of the agencies he worked for are: Y&R, Saatchi&Saatchi, Publicis, Havas and BBDO.

A French man exploring the world across its diversity and different cultures, Franck dedicates his time to understand people better and shape the future of the brands, as well. He loves to understand their challenges, to solve their issues and challenge their future. The main objective is to make both, the people and the brands, reach to each other.

I consider myself a story maker since I enable dialogues where there is mistrust, I propose engagement when there is ignorance and I build success where there is doubt.

 

MEET THE INTERNATIONAL BRAND EXPERT 

1. How did all start? What is the story behind the determination of becoming a Brand Consultant?

After almost 18 years in big network agencies, in few different countries, handling some different positions until reaching top management, I had the feeling that I was losing sight of why this business was exciting.

I was spending my time to make sure everything was all right while I wanted to go deeper into making the brands successful and attractive. I had to completely refresh my approach to communication and marketing by exploring more about them than just advertising.

 

2. Tell us three important things you’ve done in your career, to make it where you are today.

I can tell you so many things that influenced who I am right now, big things/changes and more anecdotic moments; I would go for couple of funny stories.

1. When I saw for the first time a creative guy climbing on the table to sell his script to a client.

2. When…

…one of my first bosses was claiming to me that if you don’t get sexually excited reading your brief, then your brief is not good enough!

3. When I’ve seen a famous creative director (probably the best, we will call him D.D.) getting 15 possible Cannes Lions ideas in a short brainstorm based on an insight written couple of minutes before.

 

3. Name one situation that made you want to quit and change your career.

I did not quit anything, I just changed my approach to the things I really love –  brands.

I was in a meeting for a big client. As always, we were pushing the creative guys to come up with some really disruptive ideas. One great idea was presented that day, the client really liked it and he asked the creative director how we could implement it. The latest said that he had no idea as he was mostly focused on TV and press advertising.

 

4. Name one situation that convinced you to go forward.

 I finally understood that a brand couldn’t be defined only by its advertising, that it is articulated around so many different things.

I needed to dive deeper into the consumers’ mindset, to create better experiences and craft new ideas, more than just repeating some proven ones.

 

5. What do you think are the most difficult challenges marketers have to face on the Russian market community nowadays?

It’s no secret to say that things have been tough in Russia in the last 4 years: sanctions with US and Europe, ruble devaluation, political tensions and so on. Communication suffered a lot from it – not only financially but also on its approach level. Ideas are less bold than a few years ago. You have to fight for a great strategy and creative ideas twice harder.

 

6. Investment matters. If you would have to invest in one specific field/business, what would that be?

I’m investing for real actually. And I’m going full speed into entertainment and innovation! Making people feel better is a really important aspect of this job. I’ve chosen the fun way to do it.

 

7. If you could change something about Russia’s Marketing Community to improve it in any way what would that be?

I wouldn’t change a thing. Every market is different. I work for different brands, coming from different regions in the world (Europe, Asia, Middle East) and they all have different challenges. But this is exactly what makes the markets exciting! I believe that the best way to improve a community is to improve yourself first!

 

8. What is your unique selling proposition? What is different about your brand, compared to your competition?

Never boring, always surprising, definitely entertaining, hopefully successful!

 

 

MEET FRANCK VINCHON, THE MAN #BEHINDTHESUIT

1. Name one good habit that helps you deal with your active life.

I started to meditate two years ago and it really helped me to focus, regular workout helps me a lot as well.

Ok, let’s be honest guys, there is nothing better than a chilled beer with your friends watching a football game. And music all day long, music is essential to my life!

 

2. Name one bad habit you can’t quit.

I can’t remove my skull-shaped rings. This is something I don’t really want to explain. But it’s very personal, linked to my childhood and my musician past. I know some clients freak out when they first meet me, but they quickly understand I’m a badass in a good sense of the word.

 

3. If you could be anything else but a brand expert, what would you be?

I would be a rock singer – actually I was and I did the opening for famous bands like Pantera or Korn back then. I would just pursue this dream more rigorously. Or I would just run a show for Netflix. Or I would just continue to be a writer with creepy and funny stories (I wrote a book in 2011 called ‘Tranches de Mort’).

…You can do so many things, why chose only one?

 

4. As a brand expert, what is your favourite brand?

I have a lot of brands in my mind but I think I would choose my beloved city, Paris (not the billionaire heiress). Beautiful, cultural, breath-taking and, at the same time, secret, mysterious, dangerous, uncivilized and atypical.

 

5. Tell us your favourite book. What’s the best thing you learned from it?

I’m afraid not to surprise you here. I would go for Fight Club’ from Chuck Palahniuk. I would go for all his books and all the American ‘underground’ literature like Don Delillo, Eston Ellis, Charles Bukowsky, Thomas Pynchon and so on.

Well, those books are telling that being dead honest is always the best way to make a point.

I would also make a mention to99 Francs’ from Frederic Beigbeder because I’ve inspired him for a character and I’m involved in this crazy story with all my colleagues when I was a junior professional in Y&R.

 

6. Name the most important value that you believe in.

Respect. I think this is a value that got lost in so many ways. Difficult to gain, easy to lose.

 

7. If you could compare your professional journey with a song what song would you choose?

‘Alive’ by Pearl Jam. As a music fan, I can reflect in so many songs and albums. Each song can reflect a lot in different moments of your life.

 

8. If you would give our readers one piece of advice from your professional experience, what would that advice be?

Be yourself. No one does it better than you!

Meet the founder of Marcareting Academy | BehindTheSuit

Human. Mom-preneur. Business strategist and modern marketing mentor for personal brands. 

Lenja believes that for your marketing to be supremely effective you don’t need a degree in marketing but in humanity. Mom to her young son Noa and “mom” to the modern marketing approach, called marcareting. Marcareting is basically Lenja’s strategy of inserting this belief into the mindset of the personal brands she’s helping to make money and change the world.

Lenja was named one of 12 World Changers by the New York Times Bestselling author Roy H. Williams, one of 40 most influential radio personalities under 40 by the Radio Advertising bureau USA.

She is the founder of the online community of international business women – Visible Women.

Worldchangers and a co-founder of the Club 466 International, philanthropic and educational club for women in Slovenia.

 

MEET THE FOUNDER OF MODERN MARCARETING ACADEMY (THE MMA)

1. How did you come up with the business idea for THE MMA?

I listened to people and myself.

 

2. Tell us the first three things you’ve done to turn the idea into facts.

1. I started to talk about it publicly when there was only the idea.

2. I bought the domain ilovemarcareting.com.

3. I started promoting and selling before the content for 6 modules was actually ready. I gave a lot of value (free webinars, Facebook lives, posts, 40 videos on modern marketing) and sold the whole 1st generation when I did not even record one single module of the Academy (my 1st generation was epic).

 

3. Name one situation that made you want to quit.

There is no such thing with me. Only one situation can never make me quit. My mindset and heartset are too strong for that. Plus, I’ve been through so much challenges in my business life, that I know how to turn obstacles into fertiliser for success.

 

4. Name one situation that made you want to go forward.

Waking up in the morning.

 

5. What do you think are the most difficult challenges entrepreneurs have to face in the Slovenian market nowadays?

I work mostly with women and mom-preneurs. They do not believe in themselves, therefore they do not become VISIBLE. They forget to take care of themselves, so they burn out. They believe focusing 100% on business and marketing strategy plus hustle is the only way to epic success.

 

6. Investment matters. If you would invest in something else but your actual business. What would that be?

Education. Together with Sir Ken Robinson, Seth Godin, Gary Vaynerchuk, Brene Brown, Marie Forleo, Tim Ferris, Ana Peskar, Irena Hleb, Miran Klajn, Rino Faraguna, Smiljan and Helena Mori, Sanni Grahn-Laasonen and others I would build a new school and copy-paste it around the world.

 

7. If you could change something about Slovenia’s Entrepreneurs community to improve it in any way what would that be?

Not just for Slovenian community, but for any community of entrepreneurs: do not forget you are HUMAN first!

 

9. What is THE MMA bringing to the marketing and branding market, that is different compared its competitors?

Me. Lenja Faraguna. My struggle and glory. My story.

There are other amazing online marketing academies, but this one is unique because I transparently document my whole journey.

From inside to outside. LIVE. No mindset, marketing and business questions are off limit. No pain is undocumented. No mistake is pushed under the carpet. No glory is undocumented. No fear is erased.

My students get to hold my (business) diamond in their hands for 8 weeks so it shines on theirs. All my experience (failures and glory, tactics, tips, techniques, strategies), knowledge (on mindset and marketing, copywriting, selling, social media), talents and values as well!

This they will know that if I did it, they can do it too!

 

MEET THE WOMAN BEHIND THE SUIT

 

1.Name one good habit that helps you deal with your active life.

Good thoughts, no matter what challenges comes on my way.

 

2. Name one bad habit you can’t quit.

Working too late.

 

3. If you could be anything else but an entrepreneur what would you be?

Interior designer.

 

4. You are the founder at Marcareting Academy, what is the favourite movie of the woman who founded it?

Some of a my favourites:

  •  Kinky boots because it teaches you about branding, selling and believing in yourself.
  • The Skin I live in because it blows your mind and I love an epic brain in people.
  • Dirty Dancing (I see you laughing) but hey, No one puts Baby in the corner!
  • Pulp Fiction because of the brutally honest dialogues.

 

5. Tell us your favourite book. What’s the best thing you learned from it?

 I will break the rule and give you 4 favorites of 2017:

  • The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks: “The big pain is always proceeded by the big leap!”
  • Rising Strong and Daring Greatly by Brené Brown: “Vulnerability is strength” + “Never compromise who you are!”
  • Connecting with your teenager by Lea and Albert Mrgole: “Connect and heal yourself first so you can connect with your child and live in flow.”                       

 

6. Name the most important value that you believe in.

Self-worth equals net-worth.

 

7. If you could compare your journey as an entrepreneur with a song what song would you choose?

A Million Dreams from The Greatest Showman Soundtrack.

 

8. Tell us the best experience you had while working to build The Modern Marcareting Academy?

Trusting myself that marketing strategy is not the 100% road to success, so I added my mindset to the academy’s and that was the game-changer. Then it was the FB Lives, where I answered hundreds of questions of my students and triggered the biggest AHA moments within “my tribe”. Last, but no least, is the community, where the students became friends and business partners. This trust and love that developed is the thing that makes THE MMA ever lasting.

 

9. If you would give our readers one piece of advice from your entrepreneurial experience, what would that advice be?

Human is the new perfect!

Meet the founder of Sapere Vedere LLC | Behind the Suit

MEET JEFF ZISSELMANTHE FOUNDER 

Entrepreneur, trained attorney and consultant with more than 20 years of diverse experience in the financial services field, life insurance, business, legal and tax arena, Jeff loves working with people and different cultures.

This wealth of experience, when combined with new technology for business development and marketing, creates extraordinary results for clients!

Currently, he is building businesses in Europe, Chile and Asia in the youth preservation, weight management and preventive healthcare fields.

When it comes to his strenghts he is highly effective in using his vision and ability to get the job done in establishing channels of distribution in new markets.

 

1.How you came up with the business idea for Sapere Vedere LLC? Tell us the first three things you’ve done to turn the idea into facts.

J.Z.: 1. I visualized the idea;

2. I Brainstormed and wrote down everything about it;

3. I made an action plan and start implementing it.

 

2. Name one situation that made you want to quit.

J.Z.: The constant amount of rejections. 

 

3. Name one situation that made you want to go forward.

J.Z.: When I am able to help someone in our team to achieve a goal it gives me the motivation to go further.

 

4. What do you think are the most difficult challenges entrepreneurs have to face on english market nowadays?

J.Z.: In the USA market there is a lot of competition. The most difficult challenge is to differentiate yourself and your idea, when there’s such a wide variety on the market, that people can choose from. 

 

5. Investment matters. If you would invest in something else but your actual business. What would that be?

J.Z.: I already invest in other areas outside of my main business. We invest in real estate and private equity funds. 

 

6. If you could change something about UK’s Entrepreneurs Community to improve it in any way what would that be?

J.Z.: I would have it more open to working in the smaller, developing EU markets and embracing the ideas and the people from these regions.

 

7. What is Sapere Vedere LLC bringing to the market, that is different compared its competitors?

J.Z.: Sapere Vedere I LLC is bringing innovative technologies to the youth preservation market which are based upon science and in spaces where we have no competition. I believe that an important thing that can make a big difference is the relationship that we have with people and the fact that we operate with integrity. 

 

MEET THE MAN #BEHINDTHESUIT

 

1. Name one good habit that helps you deal with your active life.

J.Z.: My positive mindset.

 

2. Name one bad habit you can’t quit.

J.Z.: Not always being patient.

 

3. If you could be anything else but an entrepreneur what would you be?

J.Z.: I would love to solve one of world’s biggest problems and clean the oceans.

 

4. Tell us your favourite book. What’s the best thing you learned from it? 

J.Z.: How to Win Friends and Influence people. Never argue.

 

5. Name the most important value that you believe in.

J.Z.: Integrity and Trust.

 

6. If you could compare your journey as an entrepreneur with a song what song would you choose?

J.Z.: Eagles – Take it to the Limit.

 

7. Tell us the best experience you had while working to build Sapere Vedere LLC.

J.Z.: Travel the world and meet and work with people of different backgrounds and cultures.

 

8. If you would give our readers one piece of advice from your entrepreneurial experience, what would that advice be?

J.Z.: Have a positive mindset and be consistent!

 

Meet Mariusz Lodyga | Behind the Suit

MEET THE BRANDING & MARKETING STRATEGIST

Mariusz Lodyga, the owner of Premium Consulting Brands, is a branding expert specialized in creation, companies communication, public relations, leads generation and personal branding.

Take a look at the interview below to find out how he gained all the expertise that brought him in the position to grow brands with over 100k stakeholders and work with clients such as global banks and more others.

 

1. What was the tipping point for your career? How did you decide to specialize on branding and why?  

The tipping point was realizing how great potential is in this sector of a market. Entrepreneurs are under competitive pressure and the ability to build a strong brand is becoming the key factor of succeeding in business.

 

2. Name one situation that made you want to quit and change your career.

It was a few years back then and due to a disappointing experience that I had with one of the key co-workers, who turned out to be dishonest. For a short time I had enough and I was seriously considering changing my career. I couldn’t continue the work due to that crisis. Luckily, it passed quickly and the following month I was both happy and satisfied working on a project for one of the global banks.

 

3. Name one situation that made you want to go forward.

The most important motivating factor is the feedback I get from my clients and the community. The positive, constant feedback makes me want to go forward. 

 

4. What do you think are the most difficult challenges marketeers have to face in the Polish market nowadays?

Changing the short run perspective for the long run perspective, while focusing on strategic thinking. All that, in order to create an image of a strong and lasting brand, providing the customers with not only the highest quality of the product, but also the buying experience.

 

5. Investment matters. If you would invest in something else but your actual business. What would that be?

Such investment would be the knowledge capital. I’m realising it through the trainings and the conferences I’m participating in.

Back in the day, I invested in securities on the Warsaw Stock Exchange; However, much higher rate of return is from the capital invested in knowledge, which I implement in my professional world.

6. If you could change something about Polish Community of Marketeers to improve it in any way what would that be?

Currently we have a strong and well-organised community of marketeers. This community is lively and actively cooperating on many levels. Frankly speaking, I don’t have a need to change it. I would like this positive and developmental atmosphere to settle in the following years. I think it is our Polish phenomenon.

 

7. What is your expertise bringing to the art market, that is different compared to its competitors?

On the Polish market, the marketing strategists are infrequent. The dominant approach is the tactical one, focused on the technical tools. My key distinguishing factor is the comprehensive and divergent way of thinking, to which I might add a wide spectrum of used tools. The clients start to appreciae more often the strategic competences, because they feel that the simple strategies have become a relic of a bygone era.

Nowadays it is crucial to know how to build a strategic advantage over the competitors.

MEET THE MAN #BEHINDTHESUIT

 

1. Name one good habit that helps you deal with your active life.

The ability to engage in a dialogue.

 

2. Name one bad habit you can’t quit.

Perfectionism. It causes that some vital projects take more time than I assume at first.

 

3. If you could be anything else but an entrepreneur what would you be?

It is a very difficult question, which I can’t answer with confidence.
I think that I would feel comfortable as a Business Development Manager in an ambitious company. I am afraid, though, that I would feel the lack of freedom. The freedom of choice, which I got used to.

 

4. You are a well-known marketing specialist, with over 10 years of experience in the field, what is the favourite movie of a man with your background?

One of my favourites is the Mad Men series. It’s a classic, which I watched with real pleasure.

 

5. Tell us your favourite book. What’s the best thing you learned from it? 

“How brands grow” by Byron Sharp. For me, the most important things in this book are the systematised rules that allow the brands to grow.

 

6. Name the most important value that you believe in.

I believe that openness is the key to success: to be open to the new and be able to resign from the old, a worn-out paradigm.

 

7. If you could compare your journey as a marketer with a song, what song would you choose?

“Always look on the bright side of life”.

 

8. Tell us the best experience you had while working in the branding sector.

The possibility of creating high-potential brands. Such experience included the opportunity to work with a brand with over 100k stakeholders, that has an annual revenue of over 500 million PLN. The scale of such a project is a real joy that allows me to use the whole spectrum of the strategic tools.

 

9. If you would give our readers one piece of advice from your own experience, what would that advice be?

The investment in a brand is the best insurance policy for business.

Only the strong brands can stand a chance of surviving in a good condition on the market.

Meet the owner of Quantox | Behind the Suit

MEET THE OWNER OF QUANTOX

Experienced CEO with a demonstrated history of working in the internet industry, Vuk is also skilled in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) with a consistent experience in leading Development Teams and programming.

His expertise is completed by a Master of Science (MSc) about Global Management, that he obtained at The University of Salford.

1. How did you come up with the business idea for Quantox?

I got my first PC when I was about 7 years old and soon after I started coding since there wasn’t many other interesting things to do  on a computer back then.

So as time passed and the age of internet arrived, I started freelancing as well. By the age of 22 I founded Quantox as a one man show company… From there, it all evolved naturally. Ups & Downs as for any other businesses that today are gathering a number of 200 employees.

2. Tell us the first three things you’ve done to turn your idea into facts.

Hmm… I have to be honest. I didn’t think too much about it back then. As I previously explained, the stages changed naturally from me coding to doing other things and starting to hire people. Again, commitment, hard work and passion are three things which kept me moving further then and today as well.

3. Name one situation that made you want to quit.

Ahhh… SO MANY ! Honestly, every job can be sweet and hard as well, at some points in life. We are an outsourcing company which means that we have a lot of different clients. Different sizes, different technologies, different requirements and so on. Therefore, is not always easy to please them. It is a very dynamic and stressful business, but very interesting in the same time! 

Every time I get the desire to quit, my team and family are there to encourage me to move on. They give me the strength I need and the energy to do it stronger than before!

 

4. Name one situation that made you want to go forward.

I always get a strong wish to go forward when I see any positive things going on, growth, potential and especially when I see how hard my team is working on everything we do. Having a great team is what actually makes it work!

 

5. What do you think are the most difficult challenges entrepreneurs have to face on serbian market nowadays?

At least in our IT sector, one big challenge is talent recruitment. There is simply not enough skilled people. But we are working on it! Educating beginners, collaborating with schools and colleges are some of the things we do to improve the situation. Hopefully, it will change for the better in the following years!

 

6. Investment matters. If you would invest in something else but your actual business. What would that be?

I am investing a lot into various blockchain projects since I am a strong believer in the technology and its benefits.

 

7. If you could change something about Serbia’s Entrepreneurs Community to improve it in any way, what would that be?

There are a few organisations and companies whose work I highly respect and encourage. They are working hard on educating and improving young people’s professional abilities. The only thing I would enhance is our focus as a community. We should work more on our own projects than working for others.

 

8. What is Quantox bringing to the web & mobile development market, that is different compared its competitors?

I wouldn’t say that we are bringing many different things compared to our competition. The technology we’re using is there for everyone to take it and I think that in what concerns this matter, we are definitely not behind our competitors.

What I think that is different about us is our friendly and unique approach, that we have with most of our clients. All that, due to our organic growth and the fact that we don’t have a sales team. We are not corporate and most of our clients are either friends or friends of friends.

 

MEET THE MAN #BEHINDTHESUIT

1. Name one good habit that helps you deal with your active life.

Sport.

 

2. Name one bad habit you can’t quit.

Overworking. 

 

3. If you could be anything else but an entrepreneur what would you be?

A performance athlete. 

 

4. You are the founder of Quantox, what is the favourite movie of the man who founded it?

Hmm, I’m afraid I don’t have one.

 

5. Tell us your favourite book. What’s the best thing you’ve learned from it?

It wouldn’t be fair to name only one…There are several and most of them are focusing on relations management. That helps me run the company.

 

6. Name the most important value that you believe in.

Integrity.

 

7. If you could compare your journey as an entrepreneur with a song what song would you choose?

I don’t really listen to music so I don’t have some particular words in my head, but it would definitely be something which have words “ups & downs” in it.

 

8. Tell us the best experience you had while working to build Quantox.

Growing together with my team members and watch them develop in these strong leaders I highly appreciate.

 

9. If you would give our readers one piece of advice from your entrepreneurial experience, what would that advice be?

I don’t consider myself worthy enough to give advices but here’s what I am doing on a personal level: I commit to an idea and strongly believe in it, then work hard for it and if it fails, I’ll repeat it all over again. At the end, one of them will work out. Plus,

…don’t put yourself in someone else’s goals. Just do what makes you happy. If you are happy you are already successful!

 

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