The secret of a successful career: aim high and stay focused

Many people think that becoming a performance sport World Cup winner, a Hollywood actor,  an American National TV star, a musician, an entertainer and athletic trainer are incommensurate all together with the lifespan of a human being. Howard proved the aforementioned statement to be false. Yes, it's possible to perform all of the above when you are truly dedicated to your dreams and you chose to have yourself as the main competitor.

Born to an Irish mother and a Jamaican - originated history teacher father, Howard Dell grew up in Toronto, Canada, his childhood being marked by the enforcing period of the ineffective bill of rights enacted in August 1960. In the same period, when his father obtained the right to vote, when Howard was about 6, discrimination was still a large scale phenomenon in Canada and consequently, racial segregation was a day by day reality.

Howard transformed this situation into the inner reason for his ambition to succeed in life.

When he was 10, Howard conceived a lifelong goals list: to participate in an Olympics Game, to be a professional football and basketball player, to be a Hollywood actor and a recipient of one Oscar and one Grammy Awards. Today 3 quarters of the list above were accomplished, even though tragedy stroked him several times, he always knew how to change, efficiently and graciously, his lifestyle and his actions in order to transform bad luck in opportunity.

The first trial of destiny came when, as a young talented basketball player he irreversibly injured both knees in an accident during training. After 2 long years of physiotherapy, Howard decided to become an athlete and to do decathlon competitions. In parallel, by using his sprinting abilities, he started training in bobsledding. Howard told me that after only two months of training, he was awarded the bronze medal at the bobsled World Championships in the Soviet Union. He also participated in 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics. In parallel he also spanned several US and Canada football teams.

His acting career began in 1991 as a guest star in the TV show "A different world", where the other guest star was Halle Berry. He subsequently obtained different roles in Hollywood movies. Among these he held a 4 years contract for " The Young and The Restless", the TV series that broke all longevity records.

His life changed again when a call from his doctor announced him a terrible news: he was suffering from a 1/10.000.000 rare liver combined diseases that would have left him with 3-6 months to live. His best choice was to fight for survival through various experimental treatments in the process of waiting his turn in an implacably long waiting list for a liver transplant. After 2 years and 9 months of struggle he thought his time to conclude this life had come, when he collapsed in front of the hospital. Miraculously he regained his conscientiousness after 20 days to find out that  he was in possession of a new liver. The next 2 months brought much sufferance and misery through the accommodation process with his new organ, but he raised again and motivated himself to participate as an athlete  in the Transplant Games Competition and to be awarded the gold medal at only 6 months after the transplant.

Today, Howard spends a considerable amount of time time in Bucharest where he first came to visit  in 2002, after meeting Raluca Sandu, by then a Romanian professional tennis player. His experience in training world class professional athletes helps him today to assist the Romanian coaches as a professional personal trainer.

He is also a consultant on the development of EECP and ECP clinics, specialist in Cardiac Care and treatment of heart disease related illnesses.

Inspired by Martin Luther King's quote: “Now is the time to make real the promises of your potential”, Howard is the living proof that anything can be done by focusing your energy in your dreams and goals.

The lesson is that each of us should clearly define high goals and keeping up with them. His story reveals that life is made by ups and downs but one should not dispair and should never give up.

When passion for collecting becomes a lifetime career

When I met Victor Bota for the first time in a personal branding training in Bucharest, he told me that he is a driver. I was thinking "I wonder what is his project". What I found out that day opened a new world for me, one that I had no idea exists in the middle of Bucharest .

Victor is the most polite man I met in my life and he is a living encyclopedia. He speaks very little about himself, so I know only that he married the most beautiful girl in the world and he has a son who is now part of Victor's team.

Victor's life changed almost 15 years ago when the owner of the company where he was working as a transport coordinator introduced Victor to his passion of collecting. This passion started with tree wine corkscrews and became the biggest collection of corkscrews in the world, according to Guinness Book of Records.

We are talking about almost 30.000 pieces of corkscrews.  Corkscrews that Victor and his team bought from all over the world from fairs and auctions, documented them, photographed, labeled and displayed them for visitors. Some of these corkscrewss are pieces of art, they are telling the stories of places and owners and Victor knows all the stories. The most expensive corkscrew that was sold in a public auction is a part of the collection. It was made from a piece of metal that was extracted from London Bridge which was build in 1176 and demolished in 1831 and it has the price of a luxury car or 10.000 bottles of wine.

The collecting  didn't stop with corkscrews. I am proud to say that I was participating in the official counting for Guinness Book Certification of more than 35.000 pressing irons. It took more than 8 hours to count all this irons together with Victor's team, but it was a lesson of history, geography and art that I would repeat anytime. And it was fun, because in Victor's team there are young people, some of them still study for master degree or Phd, some of them just finished university.

And it didn't stop with pressing irons either, it continued with trivets, another collection certified by Guinness Book of Records as the biggest collection in the world.

But enough about the collections, Victor and his team of experts know many interesting stories about each collection and each particular piece and if you are interested, you can make a reservation on the website of the Museum of Romanian Records  . You can see the history of the world and the evolution of humankind in this collections, but you need to dedicate time and patience to this visit, because we are talking about 80.000 pieces of collection, some of them unique in the world.

Victor is now GM of the Museum of Romanian Records, but he couldn't build and manage this museum without his team that now counts 30 people. Alone, he couldn't travel for almost 500.000 km to visit fairs, expositions, to participate in auctions and meetings with collectors. All this pieces needs to be restored, photographed, labeled by experts.

Victor looks around with pride. It was not easy to build this museum, sometimes he had to give up on meetings with friends when he had to travel or to spend long hours to find solutions to different challenges, but he was working side by side with the owner who transferred him his passion and he loves the team, so he is happy to be a part in this amazing project.

Victor and his team are planning to fulfill the vision of the owner: new records, new documentaries and books about the collections, congresses with the collectors from all over the world, artistic and cultural events, and to become a Center of Excellence for Romanian Top Values.

Victor was right. He is a driver, but he is not driving a car. He is driving his team to success and for them, success is to manage the biggest museum of records in Romania.

Alina Bota

Gabriela Tichelea - "There is life after sport"

Gabriela was born in the south of Romania, in Tg. Jiu, 30 years ago. She touched the handball ball for the first time at the age of 8 and she loved it so much that she decided to make from handball a way of life. All her life choices have been influenced by the sport activity. She played for many sports clubs in Romania and abroad and she was a member of the Romanian National Handball Team.

Like any person who decide to dedicate her whole life to sport, Gabriela had glorious moments, happy times, but also very hard moments. There were long days of hard work, periods of disappointment or of excruciating pain. By 25 years old, after 5 knee surgeries, Gabriela began to have terrible back pains. After many doctors’ consults, she has been told that it’s time to retire because the risk of a paralysis was really high.

There is a study that says that only 3% of high performance athletes are accomplishes after ending their sports career. About 15% make it to the top. She wasn’t in any of those categories. She just loved the sport and dedicated all her energy and passion  to it.

In the wake of her premature career end she was left with making choices that put her in an unfamiliar territory, ultimately looking to find a new purpose in life, in or out of sports.
Without any kind of support, just thinking that all that she know is to play handball, Gabriela tried to find her way for 2 years.

Realizing that pain and confusion was brought upon her life with a purpose, she understood that this is a transition all professional athletes must pass through it and she began to conceive a better way for athletes to make the transition from an active life to the end at their careers.

Now, Gabriela owns a sport agency and she uses all her skills and experience to help former professional athletes to get a new successful start in life after a long career in sports through coaching and workshops.

She also supports professional athletes through their career paths ensuring they reach their personal goals through contract negotiation to see them continually moving forward in their professional development.

Gabriela is a winner in the game of life, as she was a winner in handball. She raised from her pain and now she is helping other athletes to prepare for life after sport.

Alina Bota

Personal Branding Consultant