Live from Bucharest - Magda Ropotan
Hello, and welcome to the moon shots podcast. It's Episode 26. I'm your co host, Mike Parsons. And as usual, I'm joined by the man himself. Mr. Chad Owens from Brooklyn, New York. Hey, Sydney. What's going on? Hey, listen, I'm just loving this series of Bucharest innovators. Can you imagine how much we got out of one live show, we met some amazing people. That is just incredible resilience amongst all of our featured guests. There was this clarity of purpose and you just walk away with from, from meeting all these people, very confident that they're all going to thrive and grow and being incredibly successful.
Yeah, I'm, I'm counting the month until I get back to Bucharest to reconnect with everyone not only are our guests but also everyone in the audience as well that that participated. But one of my favourite mantras from the evening came from the guests that will be hearing from in this episode Mondo rope baton, dropped this bombshell on us, she led with this idea of design
your life. Yeah. And, you know, the powerful thing about this thought is it actually connected to what we heard in the live show in Amsterdam, from Johan fun milk. And she was essentially applying thinking that we use in the business world to our personal lives. And I thought that was really, really strong. And what she challenged everyone to do is think for a moment, are they really organising their life in a way that they're going to reach the outcomes that they hope to reach. And it's informed, obviously, from Stanford D school where a lot of design thinking has emanated from and I found it her philosophy very powerful, and especially because she's worked in Egypt and Russia and Romania. She's incredibly well traveled. She, I think we also have to mention that she was for many, many years leading HR executive at IKEA year. So she's worked with some amazing people. And she brought again, another very unique point of view to the show that we did in Bucharest.
I think her direct experience with all of these people working inside of these interesting companies was really interesting and refreshing to hear from someone like, like Magda. So, without further ado, we can go straight to the moon shots, the live broadcast from Bucharest and hear from Munda rope a ton.
Would you please welcome to the stage.
Thank you for coming on the show for this live broadcast. It's fabulous to have you with us.
Thank you, Mike. Thank you, Todd. And good afternoon, everyone. It's really a pleasure to be here. And I must say, you are putting me in a situation where is a new thing for me three times. First time is in a show in a podcast. First time on a poster. Someone put me on my poster over there
and first time as an astronaut. So thank you for giving me this, you know, exciting
opportunity. This is the real moon shot experience. Okay, so I'm really fascinated to know somebody who traveled the world and had all these great corporate experience working not only in HR but also in innovation with all of the opposite. I mean, and let's be clear, we're talking about Magda was working at one of the greatest plant brands on the planet IKEA, right? Yeah, you that was not enough. And you had the courage the the foresight to jump create your own company. Tell us a little bit about that big step in your life.
Yeah, well, I don't know how much of a foresight that was, I am actually a corporate product, I started to work in a corporation when I was 19. And I enjoyed it. It's been a good journey for me. And, and somehow I had the opportunity to work with big companies, big brands, great bosses.
And at some moment after, actually, I had served an assignment abroad, I felt the need to go back home
after being three years in Russia. And that was the moment when I realized that maybe is is the time to give myself a break. And I was not sure how that breaks, be. I just wanted to do an executive MBA, and then I would try something else. And somehow, in this two years, period of time, this thing with innovation took shape. It actually started while I was still in the corporate world, I started to be interested in that. And then when I took a break, I started to explore more the subject travel the world also for innovation this time, and then somehow my former company has, you know, we see you are interested in that we have a project, why don't you, you know, come back and read with us. And somehow this kind of gave me the first opportunity to work as a freelance consultant. And actually, that's when I met you. Yeah, it is.
We have to say, Actually, I got to meet you at the beginning of this journey. Yeah. And we prototype together, we innovated It was great, wasn't it? Yeah. And a very snowy February in Moscow, I have to say, wasn't it?
Yes, and you brought with you 22 people from Romania, including a fitness instructor, that's
Yeah, that's another story for that.
I'm, I'm curious, Magda, I'm sure there's a lot of people in the audience or that are watching that find themselves in in a large corporation in maybe a particular role, what gave you the courage or confidence to know that you could go out and start something on your own, because I'm sure that there's lots of other people that are maybe thinking about just going and doing it. But what was that final push for you,
I would say that it after I took this project, which was basically between I was not really an, you know, an entrepreneur at that time, I was being hired by my former employer. But as a consultant, I think that time, the time when people started to hear about what I do, and, and then it went like that, you know, someone said to someone that I'm doing this innovation facilitation, and then someone that someone called me and said, Hey, we want you to do this with us, and then someone else heard, and then someone else then then people from Romania started to hear, and then Indian. That's how it happened, that I started to do mostly this. And then I realized there is a market for me, so like, kind of prototypes, and experienced on the way with different projects. And I think I was lucky because it's, it's somehow the market embrace me. And I found a niche that needed me to facilitate innovation projects, especially for big companies I work nowadays, but that's how it happened. I, I don't have this spectacular story, you know, that I had a strong drive to do something else. I just wanted a break. And then in this break, somehow, my mind,
so and another path. So you created this space, and you and you've got yourself into the position where you're surrounded by clients, colleagues, and peers, and people that have fascinated in design. So you've really, you know, if we think about Elena's journey of going through this value of darkness, and having a moment where you get through, you've definitely come out on the other side. So I want you to imagine that all the people here might have a dream, but they're kind of stuck. Okay, what advice do you have for them? You know, Sebastian wants them to go out and vote, right? I want to know, like, what advice would you give to someone who's maybe sitting in the tower and a toll corporate tower, and they have a dream to do something else? What advice do you have for them?
Yeah, just go out and prototype speaking about prototyping. And actually, there is a course on design thinking, I think, is one of the most popular courses at Stanford is called design your life. And this is what it advises you, when you have this dream, just go out and try to prototyping. prototyping a dream can mean simple things, just go and have a conversation with someone that already does that thing that you are aspiring to just go out there. And I don't know, if you want to open a beach bar, just go out and, you know, get yourself one week working in a beach by see whether you like the sort of lifestyle I think everything can be prototype. In a way, I'm a big fan for the piping, I know you are as well. So everything can be prototype. And before you make the big step, you can actually try and see do I actually like it because it's one thing to see it from, you know, from the, from the eyes of the customer, you know, seeing this very nice life, you know, having a terrace on the beach, enjoying a cocktail. But then when you actually start running such a business maybe you don't want to
reality sets in. So that's, that's really interesting. Because obviously we love to encourage people to get out there and to test their ideas to learn with prototyping with with customers. And what's really interesting so I love the idea and we seeing this again is that just because you use design thinking in the office does I mean you can you can use the prototype your life and I want to take you guys back to a little story we had in the answer and live show it was fascinating. One of our guests, Johan fun know, he wanted to move out of the city of Amsterdam out of the center. And they wanted to move he really wanted to move really into like almost a forest. But his wife was like, Oh, that is the crazy I'm never leaving and say, my friends here and so forth. And he's a very successful investor in Amsterdam. And you know what he did? He said, Well,
let's get five different Airbnb ease in different neighborhoods outside of the city. And they tried it. And they they now live in the forest and not in the city. And then they prototype their lives. So I love this advice. Or anybody who's thinking, who has a dream bike move out of the the mind and, and like, start to put it into action.
Yeah, but what if, what if I fail? What if I don't like it within
you try another, right. So you actually this exercise, there is a book written about this design your life, it asks you to do three different journeys. One journey is just about improving the things that you don't like, right? Because we all have things that we don't like in our lives, that second journeys
in imagining that money and shame would not be a problem.
Wow. Right. And the third journey is imagine you can't do the things that you do today. So you are asked in this design, thinking exercise to design to create this twice a day, three different journeys, and then you can pick different things to prototype from them. And then in the end, all the pieces come together in in the ideal journey that you want to have
design your life from the D school. Yeah, this this sounds very, very inspiring. Now, I just want to segue into inspiration, not necessarily from design thinking, but I just wanted to like, share with the audience you have worked in what a cocktail of locations apart from obviously, you've mentioned Russia and Romania, Turkey, salvia, Bulgaria, and Egypt. Oh, my gosh, like, this is like the coolest bunch of places that like anyone could have worked. I mean, what, here's what I want to know, what is it? What inspiration Have you drawn, you've met, you must have met some amazing people so different with different cultural lenses, what have you taken from that journey? What what what do you remember? What are the defining moments of learning and inspiration that you've had from all these different countries?
Yeah, it's a moment I had this because I had the region and roll. So you know, I was basically HR manager for five countries. And it was interesting that they had people on four continents with four different villages, and putting people together in an organization in, in a team in this
in this diverse city. It's actually very beautiful to witness and to be part of, but it's, it's all it's not so easy to, to build. So it takes a lot of conscious effort to really understand and respect the differences of the cultures and to really take the best out of each of us and builds a culture that can function together. And I think this is the biggest learning I have taken with me to really look into, into the talons into into the strength of every single individual beyond the culture and beyond the nationality
So, so my mind boggles had it. How on earth do you do that? Like, yeah, what does that look like? Like, what magic recipe do you use? So how did you find the goodness and all those people? How did you find that, that like, what tactics and techniques Do you use,
it's always through them. I mean, we were in a large organization, obviously, you I couldn't do all by myself, it is always by the relationships that leaders will be there on people and, and the kind of conversations and the honest discussions you bring, and try to see what's the best version of the person that you could possibly have at work. And, and, of course, you can also go on a more sophisticated, but, you know, do the test, see what they're good at. But in general, is just observing the things that people do it pleasure, the things that people find energy in doing, they never get tired of them,
and then try to use more of that in, in, in a team
doubling down. This is actually kind of fascinating. So looking at what people are enjoying, and just making sure that the environment is allowing them to do more of that instead of telling them what to do, and maybe some things that they don't enjoy.
Yeah, I mean, this is there is a big shift happening already for some years now that, you know, people started to wonder, is it actually right to keep focusing on the things that are wrong with people? Or maybe is it wiser to build on this things that people are good at. And again, Lopez actually made a very extensive study on that, you know, the Gallup organization. And they have even prove that when people use their strengths at work, they are actually not only happier, but if, but they are more productive as well.
And of course, it improves retention. And
there is a fantastic book for everyone in the audience called Strengths Finder, 2.0, which is actually directly related to gallop I understand, yeah, which is a fantastic tool you can use, if you want to find your strengths, if you want to find the archetype that you are on how to understand. And I, when I did Strengths Finder, it was one of the single greatest aha moments in my career. I remember it very clearly, in London, I did Strengths Finder, and you fill out, you read the book, you do the extensive survey. And then in front of you, is a diagnostic of who you really are, and how you behave. And it is one of the most powerful, slightly humbling. Oh, that's me. But it's also Oh, I see where I am, where I have strings, and then it immediately becomes and you start to look for things that fit that. And it seems that what you're suggesting is, it's all building great teams is all about getting as many people as possible in their area of strength. Yeah, so if somebody is leading a team, and let's try and combine your two areas of practice, okay, I like that. This is going
to jelly, I'm putting my HR
know I'm putting both hats on. So somebody who's leading a team, but they're not just like managing the status quo. We're not like paper shuffling bureaucrats, we're going to go for big moonshot, okay, so we're going to do something innovative, we're going to get a whole team to do it. It's like skunk works, works here in 2018, what advice to give to people that perhaps embarking on such a mission, they may be they're already at a company small or medium company, or maybe they're a unit in such a large inside a large organization, but they have to lead that group What advice do you have for those leaders trying to get a group of people to sail for something really big
to build that vision of where they want to sell together with their people I like very much a cold from ideal and they say people want to change they just don't want to be changed. They want to be given the possibility to build their own future so and this is something that we also do a lot when we work with innovation we try to co create this future together with people and I had a great teacher we in innovation His name is highest mandible fun. And he all he has this saying about loving others, people children, because nobody actually love other people, children, you'll only love your own. You may, you know, in the best scenario like them, but you will probably not love them. Right? Yes. So it's always great that because innovation, especially if it's a big project, like you know, having your children a child to actually build this child together with
Yeah, that's. So it's a story of empowerment and self direction, helping them be part of writing the future rather than, like, here's the future, go do it. Right.
That's what you're saying. Creating the brief together and setting the goal together so that they can make a move
together as the mission of the project and not even the this future center, this future scenario that you are aiming to, I think it can be built together because, you know, sometimes you you can imagine a future Yes, you because there is this famous journalist, he said that future is already here. It's just not evenly distributed. So, if you just pick up the science of today, and you make this exercise of imagination, thinking, Okay, if I don't know, teleportation become mainstream, how would the business my business be affected, you know, 10 years from now, or if I don't know, VR will be mainstream. So you can pick up a lot of these weak signals, and you can actually build different scenarios. And in this exercise of building scenarios that are very, you know, preferred maybe for your business, I think you should always take on board your team, and because that is when they will try to build that story. I think the biggest progress of humanity was made when people chose to, you know, make their own story better, and, you know, build
another story. Yeah, well, that's also perfect advice. I think for Team Romania as well. get everybody on the same page. Everyone contribute and go for it together. Well, I think that is a perfect segue to distributing the future of Chad, but the future chat with a Romanian della can see Magda. We've had the, the, the governor, we've had the Nicholas so what should be the next fine tasting tree for for young shadow? And
I think you should try this predator equation.
Okay. Which ones that you have to point? Yes, this one. Okay. And this is a salad, cherries, cake. So as Chad is consuming is sour cherries, cake, he is going to grab his mic, and he's going to jump into the audience. Now, I have to say you should be very inspired by these three Romanian entrepreneurs and innovators. They've made a calling to Team Romania. So this time, we're going to look for a hand raising of the hand from the audience. Someone who has a learning or an insight that they want to share. There's a gentleman and a green jacket. He's almost there it is, here it comes there it is. Very good. Thank you. Thank you,
Mike. Thank you. Micah. What I take away from from your presentation and I really loved it is the idea the very simple ideas, all truths are that you can prototype your life and I loved I loved it very much. Because probably it's an invitation to take ourselves less serious and be more courageous in trying things before doing the that huge step, definite step, definitive step that scares the hell out of many people. So just trying and prototyping is the way forward and this is what I take away from this speech. Thank you very much again, that's good.
That's great. Is there anybody else who has an insight to share, the man who is full of sour cherry cake is ready to bring the mic to he's very good at locating very intelligent ladies in the front row three from the side
me highlight my name. Thank you, Monica, for today's speech. I I myself was particularly inspired by this prototype your life and especially because of the power of an insight and this insight is you don't have to make too big of a jump. You don't have to think of a to bigger solution. But to just take small steps. Like for instance, talk to someone, like for instance, grab some insights around you. And I think this is this gives a lot of courage to people that who do not know how to begin with their dream. And I think this is really, really inspiring, start small because it's still a start, and it might be more powerful. And then the biggest jump that you would expect and thank you for that.
Okay, everybody, please give it up for Mrs.
Well, there you have it, Mike. So many learnings from our live show in Bucharest. Absolutely. I couldn't agree more. So on that note, Chad, I want to thank you. I want to thank all of our listeners. It's been great having you on board for the journey so far, and there's plenty more to come. So take care everyone find firstname.lastname@example.org and I think that brings us to the end of the show that surrender.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai