Friday, July 31, 2009

M. Matica: "Everybody sells something."

Mr. Madalin Matica is probably the best Romanian motivational speaker I have ever listened to. He is part of that special category of proactive individuals in their late 30's/early 40's who act on the local markets as both business people and trainers, thus their expertise is invaluable. Madalin Matica works on devising online payment platforms in Eastern Europe and also works in collaboration with major cities in the country to elaborate city strategies. Here are some useful tips he gave at the seminar at Iashington to young entrepreneurs:

- the entrepreneurial world is getting divided into Tribes (social networks, clubs, societies) and new Barbarians (those who challenge the systems and have real competitive advantages over the big players)

- learn to be rejected and learn to be humble as early as possible

- the best time to start your business is now

- try to build lovemarks, not just brands

- "good" will kill you - good is not enough, the product you want to sell should be excellent and unique

- if you target your product at the man on the street outside you're dead - your target should be the whole world

- people shop not because of needs but because of wants

- Dunbar's number of 148 represents the number of individuals with whom we can have a stable interpersonal relationship. Apparently, our noecortex cannot process more because of its size. This number can directly affect the way in which we organize both our business and social life.

Andy Szekely - "Leadership is a State."

In a world where leaders are in great need, Andy Szekely trains high profile business people on:

- how the intellect, the "cognitive mind" works together with the body, the "somatic mind". So, by "defocusing the eyes" and losing details around, your both minds gain breadth and completeness. The best decisions are taken under these circumstances.

- the importance of good questions to oneself: what are opinion leaders beginning to say? what rules are being broken? what is important to you about...? why is that important? Which are your core values (e.g. freedom, expertise)?

- Clean your desk! our mind cannot focus effectively otherwise

- Micro prototyping : if you need to tackle a big project which seems overwhelming, then break it down into micro projects and take one step at a time.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Iashington - International Conference in Iasi

Iashington is a young international conference run by AIESEC members which is getting better every year. The young spirit of the participants is most appealing and attractive due to the innovative and creative ideas that come as a result of various workshop interactions. In addition, the quality of the speakers is outstanding.

Garett Gravesen and Kevin Scott, from Atlanta - Georgia, were surely the highlights of the event, with their pure American vibe and enthusiasm. They are 2 fantastic youngsters under 30 who managed to raise 1 million $ for AIDS kids and who are now promoting their Global L.E.A.D. program around the world, to encourage American graduates to get involved in global community service. Their useful advice was:

- "Create a Cause - not a business."

- the power of 1: when you deal with many cases that have to do with a certain problem, take 1 example and make up a story that will 'sell'.

- Be You - Brand You!

- make up your Bucket List - you'll be surprised how your mind works when forced to come up with 10 major things to do before dying.

- create a Mission Statement for your life: narrow your list down to a few key things and then stay focused on it. keep it in your handbag or close to you.

- Real happiness implies a limit - too many cars, too many trips, too much of anything does not bring authentic happiness (cf. Authentic Happiness, by M Seligman).

- the 3 Fs: Family, Friends, Faith - the most important things in life.

- “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.
Mahatma Gandhi

- a new book: The 4-Hour Workweek, by Timothy Ferriss: Tim is from Silicon Valley and delivers speeches at Princeton.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Al.I. Cuza Palace

Built in 1806 in Lapusneanu Street in Iasi, Alexandru Ioan Cuza Palace hosts the Union Museum and it also used to host kings and queens in the not very distant past. The reason why this place is worth visiting is because it is not just a palace but a home where you feel isolated from the hustle and bustle of a city and can feel the quietness and peace of a most warm royal house which does not bear the height of great empires but the humbleness of dignified royalty...
Currently, you can see a temporary exhibition on The Year 1939 which represented the peak of Romanian civilization and culture but also the critical point of downfall.

The National Museum of Art

The National Museum of Art of Romania is probably the first thing you must visit in Bucharest. It is a grand building and if you want to see all exhibits you need several hours. There are 2 main parts: the European Art Gallery (with works by El Greco, Breughel, Monet, Rodin and reps of German, Dutch, French and Italian Schools) and the Romanian Art Gallery (with remains of orthodox churches after the communist destruction, and also works by the greatest painters and sculptors like Brancusi, Grigorescu, Tonitza, Luchian).
I have the impression I have never seen enough and I go there to rediscover something new every time. The NMA seems to keep the same high quality standard like the National Art Gallery or Tate Museum in London.

Sutu Palace - Window into the Grand Past

Built in 1834 for the great aristocrat Costache Grigore Sutu by the architects Johann Veit and Conrad Schwinck, Sutu Palace hosts the Bucharest Museum now. The beauty of the building is unforgettable due to the inner staircase, tall rooms and crafty decorations and details...Until the 30 August you can see a temporary exhibition titled "C.I.Nottara and the Romanian Theatre". Personally, I was impressed by Nottara's private armchair and study desk, as well as the make up that endured time, backed up by his grand performance stories on the stage.

Stradivarius violin and Alex Tomescu

After a tough national competition, Alexandru Tomescu earned the right to make use of the famous Stradivarius violin which goes back to 1702 and has a specific unique sound. It's a privileged experience, indeed.
Mr Tomescu is currently touring the country to raise money for the Visually Challenged People Association.

Omagiu - 'Remix Culture' Magazine

Omagiu is a completely out-of-the-box visual art magazine which deals with highly creative young artists and producing shocking images of everyday objects or concepts. As Mr. Patapievici once said, you need to learn how to read this magazine first in order to fully appreciate it - it's shocking and disturbing and it's printed in English.

Rromak - Authentic Musicians

Rromak is a new group of professional Rroma musicians forming a traditional taraf. It consists of 9 highly qualified musicians with degrees in music but with a lot of gypsy passion and talent.
Lavinia, the lead singer of the group has a spectacular voice and huge talent and every time they perform - always live - they impress any audience with their songs inspired by Russian, Spanish and Balkan music.


Ar. <hafiz> means "the guardian" and it is an Arabic word used for somebody who has completely memorized the Qur'an. But practice and understanding of the text has much to do with being a hafiz / hafiza...

Love in Arabic

There are more than 20 words in Arabic for the concept of "love", as my friend told me - who can beat that?!


If you mind your <kefi> it means you take care of your spirit of joy, passion, frenzy and exhilaration. As a result of achieving kefi, you might feel like smashing plates in a very Greek way... Let it be KEFI!


Aren't we all enchanted by this Japanese miracle every year?
The best thing about sakura, the cherry trees, is that they are natural and unmodified genetically, as my Japanese friend explained it to me - beautiful!


Ro. <neam> means family, kinship, people, nation, nationality. It is a "word in progress" because it covers a very large area of identity.
The young nations of Eastern Europe have been created as independent units because of some strong families that gave identity to a whole community and then they were able to preserve, protect and adapt it...


Ro. <Dor> means a mix between pain and pleasure, search and un-find. It can be connected to love but in a very large sense. Many traditional songs deal, in fact, with this state of mind and heart.

Exeter College. Oxford

Exeter comes from excellence, in this case. Undoubtedly! This Oxford College offers top world class studies because of the tutors here. This is the place where you can learn the real value of individual and small-size group study and where you have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet a real Gentleman - like the one you read about in books and think they no longer exist.
If you want to have a taste of the atmosphere that JRR Tolkien or Phillip Pullman enjoyed then this is your place...Never have second thoughts about the Summer Schools they offer - they are second to none!

"Cuza" University - Tradition and Modernism

Cuza University of Iasi is the oldest university in the country and it is a cultural place where traditional authentic values confront modern times. Far away from 'big' politics, this uni manages to keep independent and establish links with many top universities abroad. Located on Copou hill, in a most welcoming friendly city, it accepts everyone making them feel at home no matter what. I have German and American friends who studied at Cuza and who name it their 'personal best'.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

"Vanish" - Protective Distruction of Data

Roxana Geambasu, a 28-year-old PhD student at Washington University, is part of the team who are devising a new system of self-destruction of digital data we no longer need. In a world where personal data is no longer 'personal', Vanish seems to be in great need.
Vanish seems to be user friendly and probably it'll catch on very quickly. As "The New York Times" writes, "the technology is at the heart of most modern electronic commerce systems".

"Mathematics Gazette"- 111 Years of Tradition

For many students, "Gazeta matematica" has represented a real creative challenge to better themselves and to connect with a long tradition (since 1895) in the field.
Even if my subject was not maths, I remember with great pleasure this magazine and I could feel even the legacy of the great scholars like G. Titeica or D. Barbilian while holding it.
Personally, I believe this is a 'lovemark', not just a brand, and since so many Romanian students receive international awards in maths I'm sure it is also due to GM. Now it is available in electronic format to challenge people around the whole world..

Porumbescu's Ballad

Ciprian Porumbescu's Ballad is the most famous ballad in the Romanian culture which encorporates characteristics and traces of traditional songs and moods in a perfectly harmonious balance...

Labis: Out-of-the-Ordinary Deer

Nicolae Labis's most famous poem is "Moartea caprioarei" / "The Death of the Deer", which was the symbol of a generation that was trapped in a regime that suffocated people bit by bit, teaching them that art is liberating...

Eminescu's Eve on a Hill

Probably the most beautiful song, with lyrics by Mihai Eminescu and sung by the Madrigal Choir:
"Sara pe deal" / "Eve on a Hill".

Dreary the horn sounds in the eve on the hill,
Sheepflocks return, stars on their way twinkle still,
Watersprings weep murmuring clear, and I see
Under a tree, love, thou art waiting for me.

Holy and pure passes the moon on the sky,
Moist seem the stars born from the vault clear and high,
Longing thine eyes look from afar to divine,
Heaving thy breast, pensive thy head doth recline.

Tired with their toil, peasants come back from the field,
From the old church, labourer's comfort and shield,
Voices of bells thrill the whole sky high above;
Struck is my heart, trembling and burning with love.

Ah! very soon quietness steals over all,
Ah! very soon hasten shall I to thy call,
Under the tree, there I shall sit the whole night,
Telling thee, love, thou art my only delight.

Cheek press'd to cheek, there in sweet ecstasy we,
Falling asleep under the old locust-tree,
Smiling in dream, seem in a heaven to live,
For such a night who his whole life would not give?

translated by Leon Levitchi and Petre Grimm

Maria Tanase - the Romanian Heart

If anyone would like to know the Romanian spirit it is enough to listen to songs by Maria Tanase like "Lume, lume" / "People, people" or "Ciuleandra".

Maria Tanase lived during a time when the spirit was most alive and creative and she was the real authentic voice of a whole nation, representing the Romanian art in New York at the beginning of the 20th century for many times.

Paula - A Gorgeous Voice

Paula Seling is a young Romanian artist who always sings live to share her brilliant voice with people, who writes her own songs and lyrics of extreme sensitivity and vibe and who is here to bring beauty into our lives. Her lyrics are often messages of responsibility and care for the others like "Tu nu vezi" - "You don't see"...
I can hardly wait for Paula's next song...

Romanian Cheese

I am definitely a 'cheese girl' - I couldn't live without good cheese in its various forms. Benefiting from the ancient valleys, rivers and the Carpathian mountains, Romanian fresh cheese is exquisite.
It comes in several forms: cottage cheese - which every woman in the countryside has and makes with dedication and care; cas [kash] which is the pride of every shepherd and such a delight to all senses; urda [urda] which is very low-fat and every lady likes it because of its fine delicacy and special taste; burduf [bu:rduf] cheese which is a special type of cheese placed in sheep stomach skin to keep natural fat properties; telemea [telemea] cheese which is for people who like fresh salty cheese; cascaval [kashkaval] which is close to the typical French cheese but much fresher...
In Romania, there are several regions famous for their cheeses, e.g. Bucovina or Marginimea Sibiului...So, do take the opportunity and try all the types of cheese that come from eastern Europe as its an unforgettable treat...

Monday, July 27, 2009

Up, Up and Upper...

It was such a joy to see this animation movie from Disney called "UP" - on Monday at around noon I was sharing a high-tech cinema room with a dad and his little son who couldn't read the subtitles to see the movie...not just the kid loved it but also we, the adults, simply because this is just so much better than an animation backed up by expensive advertising campaigns and the reason for this is that "Up" has an original story to tell... I'm sure people will discover the beauty of this story about dreams, adventure, authentic living, kids and elderly people in time, like the good going above the bad. It is surely an educational movie and such a nice opportunity to spend some high quality time with your child and laugh and get on edge together, like the guys in my cinema room... Brilliant!

Ivatherm - Benefits from Romanian Thermal Waters

Ivatherm is a young Romanian cosmetics company using French technology and thermal water from Herculane - an ancient spa built and used by the Romans and left as legacy until modern times.
I particularly like Ivatherm for its ethical management and care to high quality. If you feel overwhelmed by big brand manipulation and want to cut off the brand-price, you can try something more natural and alive...

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Carturesti "Book Village"

Open at the very beginning of the new millennium in Bucharest in a 19th century traditional house, Carturesti has become more than just a chain bookstore - it is a miraculous cultural space where we can enjoy the benefits of leisure, high-quality taste - of books, audio and visual materials and tea - and the personalized creative style which is simply enchanting.
Nicoleta Dumitru and Serban Radu (at 30 years of age) are part of the young Romanian generation who had the courage to innovate and re-think the social context around them and, with a lot of passion and faith in clear concepts, they managed to build a company worth 20 million euros at present. According to the owners, "Carturesti" is "a high-standard cultural platform" which was not cut out for high profits. This cultural product is an 'in-house' project and the staff consists of art lovers who eventually turned into shop assistants, Art students and newly-graduates who let their fresh creativity become reality and even Romanian writers and scholars who even donated their favourite chairs when there wasn't enough at the beginning.
Carturesti proves to be a highly creative undertaking where young energies come together and inspire everyone. What drives people to this space? There's only one way to find out by simply visiting their site...

Until 15 July, if you are in New York, you can check out the temporary Carturesti Cafe Society on 38th Street and Third Avenue, as part of the Romanian Cultural Institute New York, according to this article in The New York Times.