Brand Minds CEE Business Summit of the Year: 8 full pages of notes on leadership and creativity

Brand Minds CEE Business Summit of the Year: 8 full pages of notes on leadership and creativity

If I choose to grow in one day like others in many, I would neither eat a cookie like Alice, nor hope for the odds of Prince Charming.

It is not that I do not believe in cravings, but the conscious me keeps repeating that only the healthier mental food is in charge with my becoming. No cookie and no prince would change that.

I was one of the 3,000 attendees of the Brand Minds Central and Eastern European Business Summit of the Year that took place this May in Bucharest. It was quite an audience which was frequently referred to as “world changers”. Honestly, I felt far from the quota. I have not yet changed anything except my smoking habits.

Still, any small change has ever occured to my mind with only one day to accomplish, that would definitely lead me to Brand Minds conference.

First, it was the line-up: 6 international top speakers, mixing professions and styles, research and fun, pragmatism and spiritualism, humans and robots. Secondly, it was the leadership flag which hang out visibly. No matter your preferences, those people were trademarks across their field of occupation. Daniel Goleman, Robin Sharma, Seth Godin - you must have all heard of these 3!

When I enthusiastically posted that I would be attending the event and thus having the chance to listen and meet these names, some hurried to call them impostors or stand-up comedians or complete innocents.

Let me tell you what these “impostors” and “stand-up comedians” and “innocents” taught me on a bright sunny May day. I will present them in the order that I would have liked them to appear at my “growing” party day. 

A. Robin Sharma is a Canadian writer and motivational speaker known for his The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari book series. Altogether he has 15 best sellers. Moreover, he is a law graduate and holds a Master’s in law. He founded “Sharma Leadership Inc”, a consultancy and training company working with companies such as General Electric, Nike, Nasa, Unilever, Microsoft to name just a few. Plus the trade schools of Harvard and Yale Universities. 

  • “The world needs more heroes, why not you?” - admit it, you would be tempted to use it in an Instagram #quoteoftheday. Do not hurry up, cause there are more. 
  • If in doubt with yourself, use this: “I’m looking good, I’m feeling good, do you think I should be in Hollywood?” Actually ask it around, that will boost your trust level.
  • There is no leadership outside education and preparation: the leaders who learn and prepare the most, succeed the most! Therefore, at your next business planning, do this math: if you want to double your income, triple your investment & professional capability.
  • Leaders are conscious people. They are present, which most of the people aren’t. Being in the present means taking the most of it, something that I definetly did, because I took more than 40 small pages agenda notes during the summit. Oh, do not say that bullshit is not be recorded, because you are most probably recording it daily anyway…or, as Robin said: “if you do not take tones of notes today, think of Blackberry, Kodak, Myspace and how easily you become irrelevant”
  • Leaders have contagious energy. That leads to another conclusion: a great leader should be oneself, therefore vulnerable. That includes hugging your team mates and being real, not saying the right things! When you are the most successful, you are the most vulnerable. To quote Picasso: “it took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.” Or to mention Steve Jobs who would cry if something didn’t work as expected.
  • To lead = to serve, less working for the applause. To quote Martin Luther King: “Everybody can be great. Because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A sould generated by love.” Robin mentioned his father, 81, retired after 54 years of practising medicine who, when asked why he worked so hard, he simply replied: “because my patients needed me”.
  • Do not confuse busy with productive. Having lots of free space/time means virtuosity. In order to reach that level of picking only the thing that makes you the most productive, “hit your head in the ceiling of your potential Tarantino”.
  • Leadership is what you do when nobody is watching. Motorcycling legend Joey Dunlop was honored for the way he lived his life. 50,000 people joined him on his last lap after a fatal road race in Tallin, Estonia. "I never really wanted to be a superstar. I just wanted to be myself. I hope people remember me that way.” Ghandi had less than 10 possesions when he died. How creative, ethical and productive you are and how much do you push yourself when there is nothing for your ego?
  • Genius is habits, not genetics. Every day you have the possibility to make small changes, seamingly contributions that over time would turn into staggering results. Oseola McCarty was a washerwoman who became the University of Southern Mississippi most famous benefactor. McCarty drew global attention after it was announced in July 1995 that she had established a trust through which at her death, a portion of her life's savings would be left to the university to provide scholarships for deserving students in need of financial assistance. The amount was estimated at $150,000, a surprising amount given her low-paid occupation. She lived a life of frugality and saved daily the coins she received, making small contributions to her savings account. By the end of her life, her savings accounted for $250k, that she split in between church, nephews and scholarships for poor Afro-Americans who could not afford tuitions.In June 1996, Harvard University awarded McCarty an honorary doctorate.
  • The real power comes from integrity and work that is matery. Full stop.
  • As you change the world, make sure you have fun, watch the sunsets and sweat in the morning. Robin is a 5 am club member and he did not miss his early morning run in Bucharest, sharing the beauty of the small church he encountered on his way (the one close to Golden Tulip hotel).
  • Heartset and minset are equally important. Therefore, a leader should be 50% poet and 50% warrior.

The two most important things on leadership life:

  1. Who have you become? Are you using adversity to show empathy, to be more loving and braver?
  2. How many people did you help? She, who would help the most, will win. Do you want to make one million dollar income? Then you need to help one million people!

The 5 new rules of legendary leadership:

1. The one who helps most, profits best

Leadership = execution. Make it your mission.

Give 10 times the value that a customer expects: this is a recipe for your customer to fall in love with you!

2. Leadership 2.0 is a performance, not a title

Be virtuose, if you want your team to respect you, be the Mick Jagger of banking, marketing, advertising, etc!

3. A job is only a job if you see it like a job

Work = a platform to express your potential and passion. By the way, did you know that the root of the word “passion” is “to suffer”?

When you master a job, they copy you, then they gossip you. If you are a high achiever, they would kill you. 

Read difficult books in order to develop intelectually!

Run further in order to develop your body!

Love when you do not feel like loving!

A bad day for the ego is a great day for the soul. Starve your ego, feed your spirit.

Nelson Mandela invited both his prison guard and prosecutor at his inauguration as a president. “If I did not do that, I would still be in prison.”

4. The job of a leader is to grow more leaders. 

Real leaders make people feel bigger when they are around them.

Mentor them, you will have a team of Picassos.

5. Leadership is about 3 things: inspiration, influence, impact

By the way, you can not inspire anyone if you are not inspired!

Work on your inspiration:

  • spend time to arts
  • read books of heroes
  • spend time in nature
  • go to the right people, environment stops your inspiration

The Private Wisdom (personal leadership):

  1. You will never rise any higher than your character.
  2. You have 4 interior empires to work on: mindset, heartset, healthset, soulset


How inspirational are you? How much time do you spend in isolation to master your job?

Are you doing just a few things daily, but staggering well? Which are those things?

Find your cause bigger than you and be ashamed to die before you get a victory for humankind.


There is a clear message for you: You’ve got to change! You need 66 days to install a new habit, to live it until you wire a new way of living & being.


B. Helen Fisher is an American anthropologist, human behavior researcher, and self-help author. A member of the Center For Human Evolutionary Studies in the Department of Anthropology at Rutgers University, Helen was also a research associate at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. She is a leading expert on the biology of love and attraction, being now the most referenced scholar in the love research community.     

Talking about the neuroscience of marketing, advertising and sales, Helen considers that personality plays a role in whom you choose and why you buy. When it comes to intimacy, women tend to get it face to face, while men tend to get it from doing, but what about marketing messages?

Fisher Temperament Inventory:

  1. Dopamine - I find unpredictable situations exhilarating.
  2. Serontonin - People should behave according to established standards of proper conduct.
  3. Testosterone - I enjoy competitive conversations. 
  4. Estrogen - After watching an emotional film, I often still feel moved by it several hours later.

The 4 brain chemical personalities and how they respond to love and advertising (based on 178,532 men & women sample):

  1. Dopamine type (Creators, Explorers)

Profile: the curious sensation, seek, exploration, independent, impulsive, spontaneous, open minded, “idea generators”.

Words associated with: venture, adventure, spontaneous, energy, new, fun, travelling, outgoing, active, passion

eg: Richard Branson, Lang Lang, Peter Thiel, Gloria Steiman

In love & advertising: drawn by similar types & similar advertising

Type of messaging: avoid the details and do not forget they hate the worlds: should, shouldn’t.


2. Serotonin type (Pillars of society)

Profile: conventional, following the rules (China, Japan), “logistical intelligence”, cautious, calm and controlled, structured, fact oriented

Would you rather have interesting or loyal friends? (This type can not tolerate unloyal friend.)

Words associated with: family, honesty, pragmatic

eg: Hu Jintao, Mike Pence, Queen Elisabeth

In love & advertising: in love to each other; avoid drama, intuitive statements, exaggeration.


3. Testosterone type (Directors)

Profile: shoot for the stars; experimental, analythical, logical, competitive, rank oriented, inventive, emotionally contained, decisive, bold, direct; intelligence, real

Words associated with: debate, challenge, analyze, inquire, think

eg: Steve Jobs, Margarate Thatcher, Hillary Clinton.

In love & advertising: avoid redundancy, ambiguity and poor logic. When asked what exactly made her feel attracted to Bill, Hillary Clinton said: he wasn’t afraid of me. LOL.


4. Estrogen (Philosopher Kings, Negotiators)

Profile: big picture, contextual, long time thinker, hollistic; brain is well connected (the two hemispheres); imaginative, can do with ambiguity quite well & enjoy; creative social skills; intuitive, trusting, empathetic; introspective, harmony, emotional expressive; quite unforgiving, this type remembers

Words associated with: passion, real, random, empathy, kind, sensation

eg: Oprah, Obama, Bill Clinton, Darwin

In love & advertising: they go for the opposite type

To prove her theory, Helen showed an example with 4 Volvo car ads, one for each type.

Conclusion: when you understand the brain, you can reach everyone!


C. Sophia, The Humanoid Robot is a social humanoid robot developed by Hong Kong-based company Hanson Robotics. Sophia was activated on April 19, 2015 and made her first public appearance in mid-March 2016 in Austin, Texas, United States. She is able to display more than 50 facial expressions. In October 2016, Sophia, the robot became a Saudi Arabian citizen, the first robot to receive citizenship of any country. In November 2016, Sophia was named the United Nations Development Programme’s first ever Innovation Champion, and the first non-human to be given any United Nations title.

I was one of the many who jumped to a live session on Instagram when Sophia was brought on stage. Sophia was dressed with a pink jacket suit and wore Avon make-up. Whatever the jokes afterwards, you have to admit that Avon made a premiere. Same did Unicredit with Sophia’s first credit card. Same did ProTV news with Sophia’s being interviewed by he news anchor, Andreea Esca. We need to admit that she is a buzz, so it is obvious that everybody wanted to benefit in the most original way from the association with her. Is it something to blame? Someone said it was good that OB did not to make a product placement with her. 

Sophia was connected separately by optic fiber with back-up. Unfortunaktely, due to an update, her speech was stopped at hits half way.One of my friends recalled that she got off when she was asked: Sophia, what do you think about the future of the world?

I was a functional illiterate for couple of minutes, simply recording her without paying attention. This is why I do not have any notes from her small intervention.

Later on in the evening, I had the chance to touch her and talk, actually having a monologue with her, s she was just winking and nodding. Her complexion is as soft as a 20s. No anti-aging cream can make mine feel like her.


Conclusion: If you fear that Sophia will take your job, then go and have a drink. Maybe some of her brothers and sisters that are on the way of being made public could, but they are not marketized (yet).


D. Seth Godin is an American author and former dot com business executive. In 1995 he launched Yoyodyne, that used contests, online games, and scavenger hunts to market companies to participating users. He later sold it to Yahoo! and became Yahoo’s vice president of direct marketing. An author of more than 15 books, Seth is a motivational influencer who has inspired a lot of people to find their purple cow via various platforms including cold email. It is based on an idea to find something that differentiates a person from the cluster eventually leading to success by being remarkable.

Did you check the photo of an upside bat? It looks like it’s having a cocktail party (if you turn the photo).

Times have changed, in 1975 a record business was a big business: you had to buy another record, because it would wear out; From perfection, this business turned to impossible. Currently, everyone in the world is in the same time your customer (good news ) and your competition (bad news).

While everybody is asking for more sales to more people who happen to be average people, what is happening? We get average “everything”, something that appeals to everyone, we get advertising like crazy and average people that do not listen anymore. Would you?

Scarcity has left the building. Between two blocks you get seven yogapants stores. Rules are no longer valid as we know them. We all want to be tall, shy, happy and winning like the sunflowers, but we do not know that they have long roots. 

What are the three words to obsess in 2018?

  1. stories
  2. a difference
  3. change

What are the strategies to stand out in a very crowded and similar looking market?

1. Obsess about the smallest viable market

(Who is it for? What is it for?)

Think of Tinder vs dating: why don’t you date your customers?

Day by day, if you give people a choice, they will take a choice. You can choose anyone. We’re anyone.

If you think of the first person with a fax machine, you have to think of the second too. Hey, go and buy one, so that I could send you a fax. Therefore, one person added to the network creates value exponentially.

This is how you turn the funnel into a megaphone.

A white cow does not take more than 3 sec attention, but a purple cow, well, everybody’s interested in it. We are scared to be purple cows (not me:) because we were brain washed into conformity. But when you stand out and somebody considers your work remarkable, they will talk.

Therefore, be grit  - do not make cheaper products for average people.

2. Envolvement - they wanna go where you are going

Think you are the teacher and your customers are your students. The post industrial world is a connection economy (where scarcity exists for attention). Connect your customer by invoving them. The four principles of the connection economy are:

  1. coordination
  2. trust
  3. permission
  4. exchange of ideas

and on top

       5. generosity

       6. cut

Being part of something (a tribe, a group of connected people, spiritually, professionally, in a community) is all you wanna be.  Human people like to do what others are doing. That unlocks this revolution, the connection revolution. 

Simply said, people like us (do things like this).  And it only takes one to spread an idea!

3. Do not fly too low

This was the advice that Icarus got from his father. Equally you should not fly too high for the risk of getting burnt by the sun. But most frequently, people are guilty of flying too low. However, Benz launched its first car when it was forbidden to drive in Germany. The first book was published when only 3% were reading. 

However, watch your bosses: are they saying innovation, innovation after “failure is not an option?”

Instead, they should love “salto mortale”, it is a good sign they actually practise what they preach.

What was Seth Godin’s biggest failure?

In 1993 he said www was a bad idea.

What is Seth Godin’s most important value that he teaches his children? 

There are three values: understand the world as it, make better decisions, lead.



1. Start the smallest viable audience

(take FB example, from Harvard to Yale and much later globally) 

Think of 1,000 people who would miss you if you are gone.

2. Start generosity

(good people like to be generous)

3. It is gonna be ok, keep persisting

The failures made me what I am and failures helped me learn.

If you teach people face-to-face, you learn what works and what doesn’t.

If you get better, you steal from yourself.

You need 1000 blog posts to get better. Wrong, wrong, till you get better, you’ll learn to lead.

4. Do not quit on the deep

An exciting star is about hardwork and mastery Therefore, be in it more than anybody else and quit what you are mediocre with. Let go of many things in order to fulfill your biggest dream. Seth Godin is not on FB and he rarely uses twitter, as he considers he would be mediocre at.


E. Daniel Goleman is an author and science journalist. For twelve years, he wrote for The New York Times, reporting on the brain and behavioral sciences. His 1995 book Emotional Intelligence was on The New York Times Best Seller list for a year-and-a-half, a best-seller in many countries, and is in print worldwide in 40 languages. Apart from his books on emotional intelligence, Goleman has written books on topics including self-deception, creativity, transparency, meditation, social and emotional learning, ecoliteracy and the ecological crisis, and the Dalai Lama’s vision for the future.

Emotional Intelligence is how we handle ourselves and our relationships. An IQ higher than 120 and career succes proves zero relationship. However, there is a very high relationship between EI and leadership roles (for other roles it is less relevant). Consequently, the higher you are in the organization, the more EI matters.

Brain’s amygdala reacts to the danger - I’m not treated fairly - feeling the threat, it paralyzes the prefrontal cortex. Therefore, when you have a fight with the loved one, you will probably ask yourself: Why the hell am I with this person? So, wait, do not react yet, it is just amygdala:)

Brain has an optimal zone called optimal cognitive efficiency. This is a state of high performance and mid brain activity. Neither boredom, nor stress.

You need to give constant performance feedback. 


How is the basic model of EI?

  1. Self Awareness (Emotional Self Awareness - in touch with your values; eg George Lucas believed so much in his Star Wars, that he financed it himself)
  2. Self Management (Emotional Self Control - how leaders manage crisis; adapatability, achievement orientation, positive outlook)
  3. Social Awareness (Empathy: cognitive - I know how you think; emotional - I know how you feel; empathic concern, similar to parent/child, this is the boss people like to work with - I know how you think and feel and I care about you; organisational awareness - a decision that shows you know where to go)
  4. Relationship Management (influence; coach & mentor; conflict management; teamwork; inspiration leadership)

An experiment with a group of 4 y.o on who were asked to delay eating a marshmallow  by one hour for the promise of getting two instead showed something. People who can delay gratification perform better later in school. This is cognitive control, the ability to focus where you want despite distractors.

Daniel Goleman developed also a leadership style impact on climate, showing which types might have the biggest negative impact.

Emotions are contagious, so use them!

EI versus AI - there will always be some part how we operate and how we connect.


Conclusion: What is the advice for us, professor Goleman? Love more!


F. “The ideas man” Shed Simove is a British performer, motivational speaker, author and entrepreneur. He is known for his non-fiction book Ideas Man and for several widely reported publicity stunts and controversies. He is also the creator of a number of well-known novelty products, such as the Control-A-Woman remote control. Playboy called Simove the "smartest guy ever" and the Observer has dubbed him a "Marketing God”.

After a long day, Shed would have made the perfect ending…in tears. Nobody has ever ruined my makeup like he did! Not only that he is undoubtedly creative, but he has a total audience engagement. Whenever I thought that a certain peak would be the presentation climax and I would have time to rest my laughs and claps, he would start it over again and again. Exaltation from the beginning to the end!

He started his new business from a potential midlife crisis, after working for Disney World, Big Brother and other TV productions. This was the moment when he realised that he could make a living by producing novelty gifts. was a perfect destination for suppliers producing stuff, as he mentioned.

To name some of his products: Count Dracula spatula (when you press the button, a Dracula voice cackles at you), Emoji plastures (in case of Emojincy, cause a patient needs to be cheered up), “You’re Fired!” Flag gun (pull the trigger and the gun bursts open to unfurl a flag displaying the words ‘You’re Fired!’) or the Not So Smart Watch (the “wipe clean” watch).


How do you get to new ideas?

1. Different actions get surprising results

After reading The God delusion, Shed asked himself: what if I could change my name to God?

He did that, but his bank did not approve the initiative. However, he got massive PR because the bank shared the God story in press.

2. Treat your life like an experiment

Who is counting candles when you are old? This how the “You’re old” candles appeared and were sold in M&S chain stores.

3. Knowledge is less a power, connecting two points that were not put together before is POWER now . This is creativity.

4. Break a rule & see how you can create more value

Back to the God’s name change and bank refusal to accept it, Shed created his bank, the Bank of Shed  and his own currency, ego that he sold on ebay.

5. Dissatisfaction is a great way to make money

After experimenting different online dating apps and trying to improve his visibility by Tinder surprise photo or Bumble pick of the month, he was disappointed that nothing worked.

How can I disrupt? Create your own pond - SHInder with the slogan “quality, not quantity”.

Not only that he created his own Tinder, but he looked for the perfect moment (calendar events like public holidays) in order to get BBC coverage.

As a consequence, Tinder blocked him ….this is how BBC took him into account.

So, the lesson is: if you are small, they do not care about you, but if you bother the big sharks, you become suddenly interesting:)

6. Be number 1 on a field of 1!

What’s your USP?

7. Can you touch your customers somewhere special?

Think of:

  1. customer habits. He did his book promo on the drycleaning plastic foil. It read: “News: You can’t judge a book by it’s cover!”

8. Take an idea from other industry and make it yours

The iNotePad (The iNotePad / NotPad is a sixty page paper notepad with an acetate front sheet and hardboard back. The original iPad was made by Apple™ and the iNotePad is proudly produced by Shed's brand: Nice Pear™) and Ipood (a TWO GIGABYTE - or in this case, gigashite - fully functional flash memory - or flush memory - stick) are the best examples for which lawyers from Apple threatened to sue him. 

9. Video - are you using video enough?

10.  Go to a trade show out of your field to get ideas

Take 3 teachings and 3 questions and do not forget that inspiration is everywhere!


What if you plan to become a top author, how much you need to sell?

10.000 books, but Shed gets easily distracted - oh, really, are you telling me?.

He decided he would have a Failure Fund/Experimentation Fund to experiment some of his craziest ideas.

One of the experiments was the blank book. Just because he realized it took him about 8 years to write two books, he considered an idea to invest less time, but to sell more pieces. This is how the Blank Book came to life.

“What every man thinks apart from sex” is the title…but it only has 200 blank pages!

Within three weeks of being published, this book remarkably topped the bestseller lists, reaching number 44 on the Amazon chart. Moreover, it was translated, sold in more than 90.000 pieces worldwide and got a Guiness record: for the most bank papers in a published book.

After this successful launch, he wrote the second one: Fifty Shades of Gray, a book with 200 blank grey pages, going from light to dark grey through the book (four pages for each shade of grey). He is already used with the “cease and desist” orders:)


Conclusion: a story, a photo and a video is what you need in the marketing of today. When you have this combo, make it visible to the bloggers without paying much. They will write something small, but based on your idea that affects something big, it will definetly go in the news!


Later in the evening, I had the chance to exchange crazy business cards with Shed. I gave him my chocolate business card and he gave me his lottery ticket one. I scratched it, got three kiss stamps and won a kiss from him.

The rest is history…


Recommended sources: 

Robin Sharma, The five powerful tools to overcome pain podcast  -

Helen Fisher, for personality assesments.

Seth Godin, changing people lives in 30 days workshop, 125 people, no certification -

Shed Simove,

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