Sicknesses of the Greek business environment!
Ιn this personal confession, I make a list of recent failures and exercising some self-criticism, while underlining some serious problems of the Greek entrepreneurial environment.
I keep on firmly believing it, even though I’ve failed 6 times in a row: separated forces in my country Greece, would be able to perform miracles, if they’d learn how to collaborate with each other, and work as a team. And this is not an easy task. Αs a founding member of Business Mentor Greece, I can confess that I have been trying to achieve that in various ways… and I miserably failed.
Let me explain myself.
Since January 2016, I have approached at least 7 well-known and experienced Greek professionals of our field (marketing). The suggestion was clear and simple, with equal gains for both sides. Specifically, I suggested a 50% compensation on every client they would serve (we would provide them the clients) plus a share of ownership in Business Mentor Greece. That is if only, they would succeed a specific financial target. Everyone but one of these professionals, gladly accepted our terms, and showed great enthusiasm to become a Mentor. They were probably thinking that their experience and their credentials, were all it would take to allow them to start making money working as mentors. But they were wrong.
Ι am now convinced that Mentoring is an entire philosophy, that takes a lot more than just experience and credentials. It demands self-awareness, self-control, empathy, generosity, consistency, patience and tenacity when there are difficulties ahead. A constant updating of knowledge, an open mind in changes and new technological innovations.
We live in a transformational era, where everything around us is redefining itself. In my opinion, all the professional qualifications of the past do not mean anything at all, if the ones carrying them, do not adjust to the developments of their times. The experience I’ve gained over the last two years, says that there are lot of people like that out there, in the Greek entrepreneurial environment — and I this is something I am sad to say.
A typical example of them was P. He was a professional in the field of marketing, with great credentials and 15-years of experience in positions of high responsibility. I approached him as I had always admired his professionalism, and even more, his deep knowledge of statistics and analysis. That person really had the experience we needed and that made me invite him to collaborate with Business Mentor. But when we started the discussions, something came up. As he said, he was completely unfamiliar with the new technologies of management & digital marketing (and so far so good, as this is something someone can easily overcome, with intensive training) and that ‘’it is too late now (he was just 45 years old and I am 52!)… to learn.’’! “This ship has sailed, and it is not coming back”, he said! Τhis is a man that used to be an expert in Monte Carlo and SPSS analysis!
When I hear resonant things like that, I usually react with a smile full of understanding, and I silently pray to be wrong, but deep inside, I know that this is the beginning of the endm of every ambitious partnership. You cannot force knowledge to someone who is denying it, before he even tries it. As you cannot sow seed in a field that is not ready to be plowed.
It didn’t take long before I face reality. As I showed respect to his fear to be trained in new technologies, P. had to do at least three (3) very important things.
Α)He had to be trained in some basics techniques, like organizing himself, his job and his Mentees ,through Business Mentor’s project management platform.
Β) He had to create the proper structures and processes, in order to be able to train his Mentees in understanding statistics and analysis — using our guidance and the rich material we provided him.
C) He had to write an article once a week for Business Mentor’s blog, in order to help our readers, but also show his great technical expertise in the field of statistics and marketing analysis.
At the end of the first month, it was bright clear that P. would not carry out any of these 3 things we asked. Every week he was sending me emails, using very imaginative excuses, and apologizing for not having the time to work on the things he (mostly) ethically committed to. By the second month, he was disappeared and I didn’t even bother to look for him. It was pointless, if he was not able to see the Opportunity he had. I used a capital O for the word Opportunity on purpose, as I picture opportunity as a woman. Exactly like Greek sculpture Lysippus did. Her hair are falling in the front of her face, and if she passes by you, it is not possible to catch her anymore, as she is bold in the back of her head.
As strange as this may sound, this is more or less what happened with the other 5 professionals I approached looking for a partnership. Everyone accepted my proposal with great enthusiasm, but during the next one or two months, their efforts had worn off. I am still looking for the reasons why none of these partnerships didn’t work out. I do not hold any answers yet. A vision and one peaceful belief that life (Greek language pictures her as a woman) always tests you, as a true woman, before she surrenders to you. And this is still keeping me standing and on track, towards the goals I have set.
If it has crossed your mind, that this sad development was my own fault , I have to say, I did it too. There were a lot of moments that I questioned myself, my vision and my abilities. What went wrong? Am I too demanding when I set criteria on working with my colleagues? Or is maybe, in the end, my vision not realistic? Do I have the right to ask people to adjust to technological changes, as I do? Would it be wiser if I did nothing, instead of working 10 to 16 hours every day, trying to overcome innumerable obstacles? Or, on the other hand… did I give up very easily? Should I have insisted more, in cases like P.? What could I have done differently?
Ιt crossed my mind a lot of times that if I approved a payment for all the Mentors-to-be, maybe they would be more consistent (I have tried that once in the past, but it was a complete disappointment). But this was not our deal, and it was a conscious choise. I didn’t want our agreement to be like that, and it should not be like that. I wanted the Mentor-to-be as my partners. Willingly offered to work and share the same vision and excitement, when helping others entrepreneurs to grow and flourish.
In my mind, If I would have approved a payment for them, it would be like signing a compromising contract with mediocrity. And there is no connection between Mentoring and mediocrity. It requires transcendences. In my point of view, Mentoring is a philosophy and a choice. It is really connected to personal responsibility. Α Mentor could and should never be an employee, meaning he/she should never have a dependent relationship with an employer. A Mentor should be free, feeling he/she has to apologize only to him/herself and his/her Mentee, and not to some company.
The contracts the 6 mentors-to-be were called to signed, offered them a whole more than a basic salary. It offered them complete independency. The aspect of a bright future, linked to new innovative technologies. In addition, these contracts offered something rare- the ability of having all-set-clients, so they do would not have to spend time and money looking for them. Finally, Mentors were given the possibility to become shareholders of Business Mentor Greece in a short time. My daughters already have their own successful careers, and I wanted to invest on capable persons, that would continue Business Mentor’s vision.
Right now, In a moment of peace and lucid thinking, with a cup of apple-tea steaming next to me, the white snowy scenery out of my window and my life partner’s beloved voice heard as a soft touch in the background, I can be certain when I say that, when you are a businesswoman, questioning yourself and your vision, can be a huge trap. If life was a movie, this is the exact moment, where the ending titles should fall. Or, better, this the point where an inglorious end, would begin. Why I am saying this now?
When I look back at the biggest achievements of my life, I can definitely say that none of them came without struggle and sweat. Even for my life partner and my 2 children, I had give painful fights. I hurt them and got hurt, but I never gave up- and neither did they. I never gave up on my vision to have a beautiful, loving family. And I made it. This is what I have always done as a professional too. I used to set up goals and I chased after them, with patience and persistence. Ignoring the sirens of comfort-zones and easy choices. So, for me, this is not a moment to run away. Especially nowadays that I feel more mature, more capable and self-aware, than I have ever felt before.
Nowadays, I take it for granted, that life will always try to convince you that there is no point on trying. But nothing and no one can ever force you to do her (as said, life in Greek is considered as a woman) that favor. And this is the difference between the loser and the winner. It is not a matter of how many fights you won (or lost). It is about the obstacles you’ve managed to overcome. Because, in the end, this is what makes you wiser. This is what brings us closer to our true self.
So, now, wiser than yesterday, and despite my failures, I will soon be able to announce the future plans of Business Mentor Greece. Only this time, these plans will not include narrow minded Greek professionals, but Greek young unemployed people, who really want to work and have great ambitions for their future.