Today I called Cristian in order to find out more about him, since I am well aware about his charity projects. We talked about an hour on the phone. During all our talk, I was not able to make him talk about himself or about his personal life. He kept telling me stories about other people than himself and he was able to make me laugh and cry, alternatively, like I was riding an emotional roller-coaster.
Crstian’s brand is quite known in Bucharest. His brand’s name is “Taxiul cu bomboane” (trad.: the Candy Cab). He seems to be the personification of Santa Claus: a big, white-haired strong man, with a white mustache and a kind heart, who loves all the children of the planet, and especially the ones who need help.
The roots of his kindness, as he told me, were seeded by his own mother during his childhood. His mother was so kindhearted that, even though their cleaning lady was not performing her duties as expected (for example, she was ironing dirty clothes), she kept paying her because she was aware of the woman’s poverty.
Cristian was the owner of a small company that was manufacturing wine barrel staves. When the crisis came, his business started to plunge, thus he decided to close this business and to become a taxi driver. Given the chaotic traffic in Bucharest, his trips were always quite long, and so he invented a mean to keep his clients entertained. He has developed a game for his passengers, with prizes valued in candies. For those lucky enough to pick up Cristian’s taxi cab, the first thing that they would notice would be his big and warm smile. The second thing would be the music, mostly blues, a definite heritage of Cristian’s youth, when he performed as a bass player in a music band. Those who were able to guess the name of the singer would receive a candy as prize. The ones able to make an interesting drawing would receive a second candy. The drawings were sold afterwards to other clients for a small amount of money that was used afterwards to buy candies for orphan children in one of Bucharest’s foster homes.
Nowadays, Cristian is the head of an association named “Taxiul cu Bomboane”. He has mobilized an entire team of volunteers and he organizes various projects for the kids, like reading bed-time stories to the sick children in hospitals or organizing workshops for autistic or Down-syndrome children.
He also told me that he never offers free gifts. Instead, he always asks for a reward, as depicted below. One day, a Roma kid asked him to offer a mobile phone. Cristian agreed, but only with the condition that the child would read three books, that were to be offered to him. The boy read the books and he enthusiastically discussed them with Cristian, and he received his gift, a brand new mobile phone. When the phone broke down, after a while, Cristian promised the boy to repair his phone only with the condition that the boy would read another three books. The next episode happened when the kid wanted internet on his phone, and guess what?… After having read three books, the boy had received his internet.
Later, when the kid grew and earned some of his first pocket money, the first thing to do with it was to buy food for an old woman living on the the streets.
The moral of the story: education is what we do with what has been done to us.
Today’s goal for Cristian is “Bomboland” (trad: Candyland), a 150 square meters space organised as a workshop center for kids with special needs. He plans to bring them in this center in order to teach them to manufacture envelopes, sugar flowers, in an attempt to help them become independent. Despite his ambition and strong motivation, he cannot do it alone, and therefore anyone helping him would be very welcome. Particularly, he needs a van to transport these children from their homes to this specialized center.
Some of us look around and don’t like the sight. Consequently, these people take the matter into their own hands and try to produce the much needed change, slowly but steadily. Cristian is one of them. Are you?
Personal Branding Consultant