The Incredible Easiness Of Success
MIRJANA PRLJEVIC IS A PART OF OUR ELITE ECONOMIC DIPLOMACY LIVING AND WORKING IN FRANCE. BEING ACTIVE AS A PROFESSIONAL CONSULTANT ON STRATEGIC POSITIONING, SHE BUILDS BRIDGES NOT ONLY BETWEEN THE BALKAN COUNTRIES AND THE EU COUNTRIES BUT EVEN WIDER. THE ENGLISH AND CHINESE VERSION OF HER BOOK, THE STRATEGY OF POSITIONING AS THE KEY TO SUCCESS, WILL BE PROMOTED AT THE GREATEST BOOK FAIR IN THE WORLD – IN BEIJING IN SEPTEMBER THIS YEAR.
AS A CONSULTANT ON STRATEGIC POSITIONING, YOU ARE BOUND TO KNOW WHAT MAKES A SUCCESS. OR, TO PUT IT DIFFERENTLY, HOW IMPORTANT IS STRATEGIC POSITIONING FOR A SUCCESS STORY TODAY?
I think it won’t be wrong to say that strategic positioning is of crucial importance today, not only for the success of a product, company, magazine, individual but of a country and region as well. When I say success, I think of a long-term stable success, the one which is secured, always growing and expanding, regularly supervised and controlled, success filled with imagination and work. Success for the future. Strategic positioning today, when you are overwhelmed by tens of thousands different pieces of information from the very morning, when you wake up, till the moment when have to decide on a holiday destination, or university for your child, or a new business partner. Strategic positioning is is positioning at the level of consciousness. It is crucially important today, at any step you take or any choice you make during the day. In the world of positioning, it is said with good reason: ‘’You become a winner by going with a winner.’’
HOW IMPORTANT ARE CONTACTS IN LIFE SINCE PEOPLE IN OUR COUNTRY THINK THAT IF YOU KNOW AN IMPORTANT PERSON YOU WILL INSTANTLY SUCCEED?
For me, contacts are primarily people. People are precious, they are the ones who mean a lot to me. I choose people who I do business, spend time and am friend with. Only then do I make selection, at the level of “contacts”. Contacts themselves can bring a short-term success which sometimes appears as a trading relationship. However, when your base comprises individuals chosen for their qualities, who work round the world, and then you can say you do have contacts. In our country, you often pay for contacts, which diminishes the value of people, underestimates their essence. I find that particularly insulting not only as a citizen, deeply involved in the economic situation in our country, but also as a businesswoman, human being and a friend. On the other hand, I cannot but mention that there is a chosen, and at the same time, unique group of people in our country that look on contacts as I do. There is a private TV station in the region, Capital Network, which has such an attitude and professional approach that it daily accomplishes the mission to expand, make contacts, exchange, cooperate… - in a word, to enrich people. The relations whereby both sides, through their quality relationship, build something bigger than themselves - this is what I call a contact.
HOW DID YOU, AS AN ECONOMIST, DECIDE TO SPECIALIZE IN STRATEGIC POSITIONING? DID YOU SEE THE KEY TO SUCCESS IN THE FIELD?
I don’t know whether strategic positioning was waiting for me or I rushed to it. But, somehow, we just clicked. Namely, at the beginning of the nineties, at the department of professor Stipe Lovreta and with the unselfish support of Goran Petkovic, who is now a professor and was a docent at the time, I acquired the first knowledge about this unique marketing strategy. Back then, there was neither expertise nor consultants in the field. Even abroad, little was known about this strategy. On the other hand, I went to Paris, where I wrote a case-study on the Carrefour hypermarket and its strategy of positioning and internationalization. Then came Bemex group, a world-famous brand, with Corona Extra beer and started strategic positioning in our market. Since then, believe me, it has been as if I was pouring my knowledge and everything I have learnt from one company into another, from one product into another, from one country into another. Thus, the time came to write a book. Aware that we have made a several decades long step into the new millennium - millennium of knowledge, I can firmly say that the key to success both for the present and future players on the world stage is in the field of strategic positioning and competitive intelligence.
GLOBALIZATION AND IMPORTANCE OF STRATEGIC POSITIONING IN THE CONTEXT OF THE WORLD MARKET, WORLD CULTURE...?
When I think of conferences which deal with globalization or when I attend them, I can see the whole size and importance of strategic positioning. I have to take this opportunity to reveal a sentence I quote in this kind of interviews throughout the world that either have their opponents or followers – as if there was no middle. These are the words that Ivo Andric bequeathed to us: “World happiness is built from every human soul.” This is the message I always send in my everyday quest for new positions or for maintaining present position in the world of globalization, which I will be doing in the future as well. Nothing can be achieved if there is no love, mutual respect and dialogue both at micro and global level. Those who realize this are already on the way to the fourth millennium.
YOU LIVE IN FRANCE, WORK THROUGHOUT EUROPE. HOW DOES THE FACT THAT YOU ARE A WOMAN COMING FROM SERBIA AND THE BALKANS ACTUALLY POSITION YOU ON THE GLOBAL STAGE?
When I analyze a bit deeper, I would first say – my very knowledge and awareness of how important strategic positioning is determine my position. I have seldom been asked where I come from, and, believe me, I often travel abroad. Somehow, the fact that I am an expert in the field has always been in the foreground. And if someone wasn’t aware of that, the words spoke for themselves – whether through lectures, exposes, published articles. A woman in this field can be an ideal counterpart to a businessman as, with her strong and deep intuition and penetrating ability to go into details, she dispels conventional views of the world of economics. What I have personally learned and what I can give here as a piece of advice, is that the most important thing in any kind of business, social interaction or relationship is that woman should be a woman and a man should be a man. Only then does everything we do or live for makes complete sense.
HOW DO YOU BEST DO BUSINESS? WHEN YOU PRESENT YOURSELF AS…?
I do business best, which means most efficiently and effectively, when I approach it in the way that the interest of the project we work on, the interest of the product or enterprise we position, the name of the country on behalf of which and for which we fight, is always, literally always, above all of us. Only then does my knowledge gain power to create, design, build and shape, motivate and, simply, lead forward.
THE ESSENCE OF TRUE POWER YOU WRITE BOOKS. WHAT IS THE PLACE OF BOOKS IN COMMUNICATION TODAY? WE KNOW THAT MEDIA HAVE TAKEN THE LEAD, THEY HAVE CAPTURED OUR BRAINS. A BOOK DEMANDS CONCENTRATION WHICH, YOU WILL AGREE, MODERN MEDIA BREAK WITH PLENTY OF USELESS INFORMATION...
I feel obliged to all my books so I mustn’t fail to mention that they are really my best friends. The internal communication with yourself, which a book offers, cannot be experienced through any form of media. I grew up in the Yugoslav Drama Theatre, spent my youth working at Studio B and 3K (TV stations), but I have always been aware that when you scratch under the surface, the basis of all creative work is the book. A book is a word, communication with yourself, but also with the society you live in, sometimes even with a society you don’t even know, with something you haven’t experienced yet… On the other hand, I respect media as much as they respect word i.e. how much essential knowledge I can gain or how much new things I can learn when watching their program or reading an article. Concentration itself means that you are aware of the present moment. The present is, in its most explicit form, the only thing we have. Therefore, when you see that TV channel you watch, or newspapers you read, seem senseless, disturbing or demotivating – switch to another one as soon as possible.
THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN MONEY, KNOWLEDGE, POWER... IS THE KEY TO POSITIONING THE ATTITUDE TO THESE VALUES?
It is a cause-and-effect relationship which you should start controlling on time. Otherwise, it will soon start, to control you. In my lectures, I always point to and explain the essence of this relationship in relation to positioning. Depending on the situation, power can be expressed through the use of knowledge, sometimes money, and sometimes it can be the position you work in. However, this is where we come to an important dimension, which I have already talked about: the present. The key to positioning is in your imagination, in a clear and defined goal or goals you strive for. Only then do money, knowledge and power come which can materialize your thoughts, ideas, projects. You have your own values – develop them, invest in your knowledge, fight to achieve financial independence as soon as possible. Only then will you perceive the real power. The power of a creator.
YOU ARE KNOWN TO BE SPIRITUAL, YOU EVEN WANTED TO LIVE IN A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT WAY. IS IT POSSIBLE TO STAY SPIRITUAL IN THE WORLD OF BIG BUSINESS, I.E. WORLD RULED BY MONEY?
For me, spirituality is deeply personal and no matter whether you are in business, art, politics, or working in church, you are a chosen micro-cosmos, or, to “translate”, each one of us is a “little prince”. Those who have read the book know what message I want to give. I wouldn’t say that money rules the world. The world is ruled by creators who sometimes use power, sometimes money, sometimes their influence, and sometimes the power which is not always expressed through money. If money doesn’t represent “live creating energy”, it stands in the way to development. All the people who shape the world, influence its development, its present and future, know this. I am an optimist both of will and soul. Although harsh reality sometimes proves me wrong, I believe that the fourth millennium is smiling at us and waiting patiently. Those of us who remain patient will be saved.
Depending on the situation, power can be expressed through the use of knowledge, sometimes money, and sometimes the position you work in. However, this is where we come to an important dimension which I have already talked about: the present. The key to positioning is in your imagination, a clear and defined goal or goals you strive for. Only then do knowledge and power come which can materialize your thoughts, ideas, projects.
HOW DO YOU SEE THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN MONEY, KNOWLEDGE AND POWER IN SERBIA?
In a few words, I would say: underestimated knowledge, overestimated role of money and ignorance of the essence of true power.
DO YOU REALLY THINK THAT WORLD IS NOT RULED BY MONEY?
The world is ruled by creators, visionaries and strategists. What is essential about them is power. At the second level there are bankers, engineers, producers. We must not identify cash flows with energy flows as we know that mother nature only has given us so many free energy sources. Isn’t that right?