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 https://museumofromanianrecords.com/ . 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.
Irina is 30 y.o, she was a handball player for 10 years and now she is married with Andrei and a mother of two boys. Until 2015 she had nothing to do with Romanian traditional hand sewing, as she was pursuing a career in retail, but in the winter of 2015 she has found herself without an income, and she had to find a quick solution to reinvent herself.
Irina was born in Rodna Mountains, a place in Transylvania where the traditions are still respected and preserved by the old generation. In her quest for finding a new source of income, she went back home to learn how to sew Romanian traditional shirts, called “ie”. After a difficult start, with the help of her mother and her grandmother and the unconditional support of her husband, she started to produce small jewelries sewed traditionaly and later on, shirts and costumes.
Now, Irina is the owner of “Dor Autentic by Irina & Andrei“, a well-known Romanian brand, she participated to many fairs, she was promoted on national television in prime-time news and she is sending Romanian traditional shirts and costumes all over the world.
Irina is passionate about hand sewing and she is one example of the people who managed to listen to their inner voice in hard times, to find their seeds and blossom.
Personal Branding Consultant
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.
Personal Branding Consultant
Education is what we do with what has been done to us. I already said that in Cristian Roman’s story, the taxi driver with a kind heart who learned from his mother to help others and now is helping children in need.
This story is also about education. It’s about the financial education that Anamaria received from her parents and now is passing to her daughter and to other parents.
The story begins in Cluj Napoca, where Anamaria was born and raised. Her parents were good people who started from scratch and built their future slowly, through hard and honest work. Anamaria’s father had a second job, as a painter and she helped him sometimes, but she was always paid for her work at a fair price. From her father, Anamaria learned how to appreciate the value of her work, elements of “customer care”, PR, marketing, accounting, quality assurance, negotiation – even though she didn’t know this concepts at the time.
From her mother, Anamaria learned how to administrate the family budget and elements of investments. Her mother was the “financial brain” of the family.
At 18, her parents informed Anamaria that, because she became an adult, she must be independent and gain her own money. As a result, she found a job in a small bank. By day she was working, by night she was studying and in the weekend she was attending the classes of the Economical University.
At 20 she lost her father, so she had to take a second job to be able to complete the last 3 years of University. It was hard for her to work and learn at the same time and watch her friends who have fun and enjoy the parties. At 23, after she finished the University, she found a job in a bigger bank and she climbed the ladder of success, so she moved to Bucharest to work in the bank’s HQ. Life in Bucharest was not easy because she decided to pay for her MBA, so she couldn’t afford to rent an apartment for herself, she could only rent a room in someone else’s apartment.
Looking back, she is proud of what she has accomplished until now. Her parents taught her to administrate her money well, to work hard and to persevere.
Now, she has more than 19 years of experience in banking and she learned some strong lessons about money, such as:
- money without financial education will not bring wealth and financial stability
- happiness and abundance are not connected with a specific amount of money
- there is no connection between the amount of money you have and the skills of a good administrator of money
- what you learn from your family about money you will replicate in your adult life
- many parents, finance their children for long periods of time and when they make mistakes, they “save” them, without knowing that in this way, they will never learn their lesson and they will always repeat their mistakes
- money are a taboo subject in many families
- credit, as a financial instrument, can help you and grow your wealth, or can bring you personal bankruptcy
- people think about investments, but few of them think about safety in case of illness, unemployment etc.
Anamaria is a mother now and she is passes these lessons learned from her parents and from her life experience to her daughter. She looked around to other parents and she realized that very few of them know when to start financial education with their children, what to speak with the children about money and how. In consequence, she started a new project of financial parenting and I am happy to say that I assisted at the birth of this project as a business consultant.
Financial education has to be an important curricula in our education and in our children’s education. Anamaria writes articles on her blog, organises workshops with parents and participates as a speaker in different events for parents.
As I said at the beginning, it’s very important what we learn from our parents regarding money, what emotions they transmitted us about money and what behaviors we formed in administrating money, because we will pass all this to our children.
Anamaria’s lesson for all of us is this : “If you want your children to be wealthy, don’t give them money, give them a healthy financial education.”
Until few years ago, Loredana was struggling to escape from her mother’s legacy who was a kindergarten teacher. When she was little she always saw her mother tired after work and she thought that it must be a very hard job. But, like she heard from an expert in education: it’s useless to run. Many of us will end up in professional areas that are not far from our parent’s.
Her search began with acting, than she was a clerk in Ploiesti Town Hall for few years, to change again towards banking. She took education seriously in each of this 3 areas, so she studied 3 years of Art School, then the University of Public Administration and in the end, Law School.
Still, it was not enough. Every time she ended up bored and she continued her quest. Sounds familiar? Well, that proves that very few people are lucky enough to find their vocation at a young age, most of us function in trial and error mode for years.
In 2015, Loredana was a Branch Manager in an important bank, helping entrepreneurs with loans to level up their businesses. Then she realised that her clients need more than financial advice to be successful in business. There is a saying, I don’t remember where I heard it, but I also use it in business counselling: ” Your business is a mirror of your heart. If your heart is not ok, your business cannot be successful”. So she started to learn how to “heal hearts”, to first make (as she was always doing in her life) some serious training and she become Personal Development Consultant.
Very quickly Loredana learn that all our behaviors and beliefs are formed in childhood and she took a certification in parenting and started to heal also little hearts.
Loredana realised that she cannot run very far from her mother’s legacy. She wanted all her life to be a teacher so now is a well known business coach and personal development consultant and a to parenting specialist.
You can see it in her smile that she is happy with her new path. She has a beautiful family, 2 children, every day is full of new challenges from her clients and her life is full with events where she is planner or protagonist.
The moral: regarding vocation, listen to your instinct. It’s the best vocational adviser.
There is a big debate on whether the leaders are born or formed, but I never saw the point in wasting time and energy even talking about this. It’s clear that education and the environment we grew up in are responsible for our leadership skills and not our DNA and this will be prooved in Oana Vaideanu’s story.
Oana was born in Brasov, a beautiful city in Transylvania, under the Fagaras Mountains. Her parents decided her career from a very young age and Oana’s education followed this path: the child must learn how to ski and talk German. Why this strange combination? Near her city was a ski resort, Poiana Brasov, where in the winter time it was full of German tourists and the ski monitors were living an easy and abundant life. Plus, the Brasov area is Germanophile and the best schools in the area were schools where children were studying in German. Sport and German language marked Oana’s career, even if she never became a ski monitor.
At 3 she started taking ski lessons and she was practiced this sport for 7 years until her coach upset her so much that she decided to quit. She had strong values and principles from a young age and there were some barriers already formed that she never crossed in her lifetime. Even if her coach disappointed her in a way, he gave her the best life lesson ever. He taught her that everything she will do, would be for her growth, for her development, for her success and not for others.
After quitting ski, Oana decided to try athleticism and after 2 years she started to play volleyball, the sport that she is still playing today, when she is celebrating her 36th anniversary. Volleyball is a team sport and Oana learned how to be a good team player. She said that she was never a captain, but she was always the informal leader of her team and the motivator.
In career, Oana used her diploma in economics, her German language skills and her leadership abilities learned in sport and she became a leader in the corporate world. At the top of her career in corporate she was the GM of a German retail company with a 10 millions euros turnover in Romania. She started to work in the company from zero, when the company just arrived in Romania. One of Oana’s principles in business is that the relationship sells, not the merchandise. There is a lot of competition, but what makes the difference is the relationship between the people, no matter if we talk about employees or business partners. She became GM after 5 years of working in the company and in the most vulnerable period of her career, when she came back to work after she gave birth to her son. The biggest client that the company was having in that period called in Germany to the owner of the company and told him “In Romania, we work only with Oana Vaideanu”. The owner called her and proposed her to be the GM in Romania.
Life was good, she made an MBA and she was growing as a person and as a professional, but somehow it was not enough. So, she decided to step on the other side, entrepreneurship. Her first business was a lesson which cost her 25.000 euro. Why? Because she did the same mistake that all the former employees from corporate do in entrepreneurship: they behave like managers, not like business owners. They invest in image and logistics before testing the products and they enter in business only for money. They never think about passion and their abilities to manage the business from A to Z. Her first business was a big lesson and she learned, on her own money, the differences between being a manager in a corporation and being a manager and a leader of your own business.
I have a quote that was like a motto for me when I was a manager in corporate and it suites Oana perfectly: “People don’t care what you know until they know how much you care”. She cares and people follow people who care.
Now, Oana is an independent Business Optimization Consultant and works both with corporations, especially on retail non-food and with entrepreneurs. Oana believes that the optimization of a company is done both on the paper and with the people. You can obtain better results if you start the optimization process from inside the organization, with the team and not from the outside, cutting costs or investing in new directions.
Oana is an example of leadership for me. She is authentic, she loves people and she knows how to establish great relationships with them no matter the social status (speak with the man, not with the role that the man has now), she is leading by example and she is a team player.
Personal Branding Consultant