What kinds of leaders are best at their jobs? What kinds of students are quickest to complete given tasks? What kinds of young (start-up) entrepreneurs are the most likely winners of tomorrow?
If your answer is ‘the most ambitious, responsible, passionate and conscientious’, this is perfectly fine, although it is not what I had in mind. But first things first.
The first time I started to notice obvious differences among people around me as they were taking on similar challenges was – as this is usually the case – in high school. If one was a math whizz, they weren’t necessarily the best athlete; if one excelled at Biology, they could be struggling with essays in Slovene; if one spoke German like a native, this was no guarantee they would do just as well in English. I could go on, but you get the point.
So, if writing comes easily to me, I am not necessarily a good entrepreneur, even if I run a small media company. Of course, I do my best to be, just as I do my best to be a good leader to our small but crucial team. This is important because each team member shoulders the responsibility for a vital aspect of our company’s activity. This is why I am only the leader “on paper”, when in fact we are all co-workers. Colleagues, if you will.
Just as there was once a classmate who was better at Maths, there may be colleagues who are better at writing about this or that energy issue. And if even I was able, now and then, to write a better essay than this girl at school, some of my articles may now come off better than my colleagues’. Perhaps I preferred the topic, or I just had a more inspiring day for writing.
Some people at our energy media company have a blast writing about the Šoštanj TPP saga, while others prefer energy trading or writing regional articles in English. For some, it is the energy start-up scene that drives them, some others just love the EU energy policy… You get the drift, right? We are different!
It is precisely because of our difference, or rather, diversity, that we can navigate this entrepreneurial path with Energetika.NET together. Energetika.NET is a specialised media outlet that has enjoyed a visible presence in the Slovenian energy sector for more than 15 years and the role of a leading regional energy news provider since around 2010. Why am I telling you this?
Because we have really made an effort: a lucky seven years with most of the current team, and even more with others. This effort has not gone unnoticed – on the contrary. Next year, we will celebrate a lucky seven years of our partnership with Montel, Norway. Montel, another specialised online news provider with an even stronger focus on energy trading, acquired a stake in Energetika.NET (now Montel Enetgetika.NET) after recognising our team as an opportunity.
They were not wrong; in the years of doing business together, many new subscribers have been added, at Montel Online or Energetika.NET, by one side or the other, i.e. by us for Montel or vice-versa. Together we have organised a series of energy events – and much more successfully so than any of the two teams could have done by itself. And we are all enjoying the fruits!
You might not believe me, but this is not even the most important thing. What matters more – and I speak from experience as someone who was given a leading position when they were not ready for it, much less desire it – is to have a counterpart who, covering slightly different markets at the other end of the continent, is all too familiar with industry – as well as general global – trends, and (most importantly!) has the sagacity of an international business partner. As entrepreneurship is the life I lead most of my waking hours, it is important for me to share it with people I can build a positive atmosphere with.
When I talk about sagacity, which I find so very essential, I talk about seemingly trivial jobs such as organising regular meetings of the sales and marketing staff, or regular meetings of journalists from the main and associated media companies, and, last but not least, annual end-of-the-year meetings of the entire staff, to celebrate the brilliant business decisions and good results as well as find (together!) solutions to potential minor blunders. (These we try to detect and address year-round, when and if necessary.)
This is where it shows, the diversity. A good leader will look to recruit a team of people who complement or surpass them in their weakest areas. A good leader will know how to encourage the team to grow and develop, and share their joy over their achievements – because they are shared achievements! A true leader will aim to keep their colleagues satisfied because only satisfied employees can truly achieve and surpass their own goals. Just think how much higher we can reach as ‘happy employees’!
The leader, too, should be satisfied (or, better still, truly happy), as it is their energy coursing through the team’s veins. This entails working on yourself as a complex being composed of the body, emotions, and mind. If the body needs a healthy dose of exercise, emotions require impulses, and the mind needs periods of peace and quiet, for instance through meditation. This balance is not to be neglected.
With the right balance, we find it so much easier to do what we truly like doing and what we are good at. If school perhaps has not prepared us to excel at every subject (more or less useful in real life), it has prepared us for life itself – in fact, we never stop learning.
Now, to answer my initial question about people who always do best: it is the people who are ready to keep learning (not just in formal education).
If you want to be one of the people who are eager for knowledge, register for Energija plus and Energetika.NET’s Marketing & Journalism Summer School, which will take place at ABC Accelerator, Ljubljana, from 25 to 27 September.
The Summer School accepts students with a background in either social or natural sciences. To apply, please send your CV and motivational letter to firstname.lastname@example.org by 17 September 2018, 12 midnight. The opportunity to attend the Summer School will be given to candidates who show the strongest motivation and desire to take part in the event. This can be your chance to kickstart a career at the intersection of media, marketing and energy, and an opportunity to find out if this is something you could enjoy doing professionally.
Read more about the Summer School HERE (in Slovene)!
Alenka Žumbar Klopčič is a Shareholder and the Director of Montel Energetika.NET, the Editor of Energetika.NET and a PR consultant for ABC Accelerator. She is also the initiator of the Happy House, a project to help children from disadvantaged backgrounds from her local community, which she runs as part of her organisation Blue World for Youth. Alenka has authored more than 30 environmentally-themed children’s books. Her latest entrepreneurial venture was the acquisition of a stake in BOO, a start-up design label for trendy backpacks and bags. This is her guest blog post for ABC.