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Prominent woman entrepreneurs

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U Istanbulu je 21. i 22. septembra održana prva konferencija žena preduzetnica jugoistočne Evrope. Među stotinak žena učestvovala sam kao žena preduzetnica iz Srbije, kao izdavač magazina Vrele Gume.

Ovo mi je posle više od 15 godina putovanja na najrazličitije prezentacije novih, neviđenih, modela automobila širom planete i to uglavnom u društvu muških kolega novinara, bilo prvi put da prisustvujem nekoj „ženskoj“ temi, izvan moje oblasti – auto industrije.

Moram da priznam da mi je bilo beskrajno zanimljivo da sretnem sve žene iz okolnih novih i starih država, koje iznalaze načine za počinjanje i za nešto još teže – za ekspanziju svojih biznisa. Ono što sam odmah primetila boraveći među damama je odsustvo onog izrazito kompetitivnog stanja i atmosfere koje obično prati skupove u kojima su pretežno muškarci.

Dugo sam razmišljala šta bi mogla da bude tema i okosnica mog obraćanja na Ženskoj Konferenciji a da nisu direktno automobili i ova moja industrija. Samo i logično se nametnulo da je to komunikacija, kojom se zapravo bavim već blizu dve decenije. Obzirom da nam je Turska, ozbiljna država koja snažno podržava razvoj ženskog preduzetništva i vidi u njemu ozbiljan potencijal, bila domaćin, i da je Kapadokija jedan od mojih omiljenih delova na Planeti, učinilo mi se zgodno da povežem ove dve stvari.

Ovako je to bilo:

Ladies and Gentleman, good afternoon!

I would like to share with you the story about my first contact with Turkey, this beautiful country. It occured four years ago in Kappadocia. I was a member of Jeep Off-road track Team, on the silk roads in this fascinating piece of Earth. My first night in Turkey ever, I spent in a lava house in a village Gulsehir, close to Gorem and Kayseri.

My first door neighbors were Mehmet and his wife. They spent that night in their front yard cooking something that smelled sweet and fresh, and so inviting. I could hardly resist going to visit them. Next morning they were still there, still cooking something very delicious, and I was very curious about all that. I said “Hello” and “Good” morning, but nobody even noticed me.

I continued with my Jeep adventure on the ancient Roman roads, found one of my Turkish colleagues working for CNN, told him what I had seen, and asked him to tell me what they cooked. He explained to me that they were cooking pomegranate syrup that was used for the salad dressing, and many other delicious toppings in that area. That dish was typical for that part of country. He also taught me to say „akshamla“, and „ne turkche ne demek“, and several other useful words in Turkish.

That evening I was walking back „home“, and I said „akshamla“ to them. The elderly couple immediately paid attention to me, and answered me the same. They started speaking more words, obviously thinking that I could understand everything. It all ended so that I spent half an hour interesting in that yard, tasting that delicious syrup, and chatting, using my very few new-learned words. We were laughing, and had a feeling that anything was possible. I had new friends, enjoyed that evening incredibly, and would keep that in the memory for my whole life.

This little story is all about communication, and how important it is, as in everyday life, but even more in business. It emphasizes how words have deep impact on our activities, used in the right or even wrong way. I’m a publisher of an automotive magazine Vrele Gume (which translated means Hot tires), and communication is one of my most important tools in everyday business. It was a bare necessity to develop special communication skills if I wanted to survive in my professional life.

Historically, entrepreneurship has been a male-dominated pursuit, but cars, motorbikes and enjoying in driving vehicles were even more. If one mixes both of the subjects, one gets automotive magazine, its TV edition, and a leading web site in that domain with rapidly growing visiting figures, and all that published by a woman. What a provocation, especially in the patriarchal Balkans. I’ve been in this business since 1993, when I founded this car magazine together with my husband.

This all happened in a male dominant society where cars are bought usually by men for their wives, daughters, girlfriends… I had to create an expert image that was reliable and could be trusted. Careful steps in PR and media communication area were my gears too.

When I first saw this subject “Prominent Woman Entrepreneurs”, it was very interesting how it targeted my personal entrepreneur biography. Doing some research, and evaluating different backgrounds for this occasion, I found many famous and prominent female entrepreneurs, mostly active in fashion, beauty, education and other similar traditionally female areas. I found one interesting quote from a prominent female entrepreneur that described how it looked like being an entrepreneur at all. Dame Anita Roddick, founder of the Body Shop said „Nobody talks of entrepreneurship as survival, but that’s exactly what it is and what it nurtures creative thinking “. And this is exactly about creative thinking of different surviving methods in a business surrounding that is predominately male, and is in let’s say turbulent territory, in even more turbulent period.

Having the idea of necessity to become recognized as a Serbian expert, and being only woman in the car business issue, I felt catapulted directly into the prominent world, although it was one of my business strategies to create a well known name in the media, in the way of becoming an expert in automotive industry. Of course, being involved in media business made those steps toward public appearance much easier.

I would like to extract one important thing in the process of creating self image in the media. As Einstein said, „imagination is more important than knowledge“ — knowledge will provide a valuable foundation, but imagination allows you to go beyond what has been previously believed possible, while you lead the direction of your growth. Education and self-development is a lifelong commitment. It is essential to maintain continual growing and adapting as we shape our experience in alignment with our vision and purpose.

I found somewhere this advice: “Work on yourself harder than you work on your job. If you work on your job, you’ll make a living; but if you work on yourself, you’ll make a fortune and build an incredible life.” We have to recognize and practice that innovation from the inside influences everything else. With innovation, you can purposefully shape the future.

I would add to this – and try to implement this in your personal PR. It pays back multiplied.

Lidija Piroški

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