Call for Leaders | Sotiris Chatzidakis (CEO Clubs Romania): Every crisis provides all of us with a great opportunity to try things that we couldn’t try in a mainstream market

Mihai-Alexandru Cristea 16/09/2020 | 12:26

After running its course, the original Call for Leaders – 3Q was completed successfully, achieving its intended purpose of bringing a positive, insightful, or otherwise constructive view of the Romanian business scene in the context of the current crisis. Now, Business Review followed up with some of Romania’s top professionals and entrepreneurs for #Call4Leaders part II – Back in Business, to see how they mapped out the long-awaited return to normality.


Current conversation: Sotiris Chatzidakis, Executive Vice President, CEO Clubs Romania


How do you define the new normal that everyone should submit to?

“Luck is when good preparation meets the opportunity” Seneca

To begin with, I believe that what differentiates people with a winning philosophy is that they lead the changes rather than submitting to them. One of the things that saves us and helps us to survive in mental peace as human beings, is our ability to forget. That probably can explain what usually happens in markets and that is that in tough times like these, we tend to remenise how great it was before and forget completely that difficulties and challenges have always been there. Of course there is no doubt that the current situation is unprecedented and definitely a game changer, however I’m focusing more to the attitude of being accustomed to changes, where traits such as flexibility, innovation or shiftability can turn a very difficult situation for others to a once in a lifetime opportunity for the prepared ones.

The COVID crisis has changed many things and some of those changes are here to stay. Unnecessary business travelling will be eliminated as digital communication became an acceptable way of communication, our physical presence to meetings or events will underline their importance (if not important then why go?), companies and even houses will have a dedicated room that can work as a studio for broadcasting, business events will be a hybrid between online and physical, prices of the suburban real estate are hiking etc etc. The virus was an accelerator of change. The future that we all have talked so much about in the last 5 years, is here and we might as ell make the best we can with it.


Has this crisis altered your optimism or hopes for your bus plan in this calendar year?

“With the wrong attitude in life, life happens to us. With the right one, life happens for us” Unknown

My optimism is never altered. In the contrary it is growing along with my age! Every crisis, as long as an organization is prepared (people, structure, finances) provides all of us with a great opportunity to try things that we couldn’t try in a mainstream market. And that way, we create our own next level for the years to come. Agility is one of the key elements in order to do that. We need to be able to observe, try and fail fast all in the same time and do it over and over again, eliminating mistakes and building on what worked. And all that, in the mist of uncertainty and fear. This is the road that we have decided to take and we are re-adjusting our plans and re-inventing ourselves everyday. It has worked in the past, it is working now. We are not spending our days solving problems. We are using them to build a better future for us and our 300+ Members.


What’s next for the industry you are currently representing?

People will always want to be with other people therefore the future of the belonging industry looks very positive and promising. The more we all move up the ladder, the more we realize that those that we have chosen to hang out with, determine to a large extend our future, and smart people know that. Professors James H. Fowler PhD and Nicholas A. Christakis MD PhD have written this amazing book called “Connected” that proves in a scientifically documented way the surprising power of our social networks and how they shape our lives. In fact, how our Friends’ Friends’ Friends affect everything we feel, think, and do. Success inspires success, health inspires health, smiles inspire smiles and so on. That’s why very smart and successful people (not necessarily in business) decide to “belong” together. Likeminded people with strong values, naturally generate good of all sorts and that is what’s behind all the amazing things that we hear everyday: some very beautiful (in all senses) people, together.    

What we can say after 6 months of full or partial lock down is that our Clubs’ renewal rates are higher that last year which was a normal one. The same happens year on year with the new Members joining CEO Clubs, Owners Club and Executive Club. The exact same thing happened when we set up our Chapter in Greece in 2009 during the Lehman Brothers crash. In difficult times leaders need to be with other leaders to share, learn, get shortcuts, have fun, discover new things, have a sounding board. That way they extend the little time that they have available to decide, through the given quality of the advice they receive.

Our role as leaders of these communities is to observe and quickly adjust the course based on the circumstances. We managed to realize very early what is coming and thus we were the first ones to switch our meetings to online on March 12th! We also empowered significantly our Advisory Boards where more than 100 Members meet by 10, twice a month, so that they can continue their operation digitally and at the same time we managed to “bring” 18 top speakers in font of more than 1,000 attendants. Nowadays, and given that the participation restrictions will stay with us for a while, we are organizing small groups on different passions (philosophy, art, dancing, acting, sailing, piloting and many more) where our Members will be able to sign up and meet in small numbers to discover a new activity or hobby. It’s the development that I talked about before and that is triggered by the circumstances. In a “pre-COVID” environment we would have the luxury to wait and test and think and, and… Not anymore!        

Our Members are the best of the best and we are dedicated to bring to them the best available speakers from all over the world, to talk to them about all sorts of interesting topics (a comedian and a university professor are equally important in times like these) and to adjust continuously. Most importantly, we are here to make sure that more brilliant people are joining and adding their expertise and friendliness to the existing group. Communities have been and they will keep on playing a key role in the next years as the catalysts of change and innovation they are. At the end of that day, they are made to live forever…

Also if you want to read more details about us and our community you can visit our website

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Mihai-Alexandru Cristea | 09/03/2023 | 17:26

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