Miodrag Kostic

Business education and consulting

Interview with Mr. Andrej Vizjak Managing Director of A.T. Kearney South East Europe for Emagazin

Yesterday in Sava Center “PR-Week Belgrade 2007” conference was opened. I was present at the opening ceremony and not counting little glitches with electrical power shortages it went very well. Before the opening I had interview with Mr. Andrej Vizjak Managing Director of A.T. Kearney South East Europe. He is internationally recognized consultant and teacher at Munich University.

As always there are good new things you can hear from people coming from abroad. Here in Serbia its like in a closed box, where you can only here the same old ideas over and over again. I enjoyed talking with Mr. Vizjak. I liked so much when he mentioned the importance of social competences when they choose candidates for consultants for A.T. Kearney Consulting company.

Unfortunately, these social (and many other) competences are what is missing from psychological profile of the average “Serbian businessmen”, competencies like emotional, spiritual, empathy and the will to do good for the whole society.

Anyway, I lived in the west long enough (17 years) to know that their “spiritual” competencies are far from perfect. But somehow, selfishness, greed and excessive egoism is not as obvious and aggressive as it is here in Serbia. I sincerely hope European integrations will bring some positive change to Serbian society soon. As professor Isac Adizes recently said in his interview: To change people (their state of mind), you must first change their environment.

(picture from the interview in Sava Centar)

New information + case studies + exercises = competency

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BlogOpen.eu in Novi Sad – feeling good about it – watch Stephanie Booth clip

On Saturday November 10th we were in Novi Sad. Autumn session of Blog-Open has moved to Novi Sad and becomes international.

We had good time meeting friends and listening to something new and different.

How many more events like this we need in Serbia on our thorny path to EU? This event was definitely inspiring!

Click on the picture below to see vidio clip of Stephanie Booth’s presentation:

New information + case studies + exercises = competency

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Hochegger Srbija, without website, ‘leading’ our communication industry

Few days ago I have read an article on Hochegger Srbija in E-kapija web site:


Leading world PR network in Serbia – signed agreement on joining and cooperation between “Burson Marsteller” and “Hochegger”

General manager Severin Heinisch said the goal of his company is to become leader in their field in Serbia by the end of the year, and most developed PR agency on Southeast European market.


Watch out for the last sentence:

to become leader in their field in Serbia by the end of the year

I tried to find them on Google, and can you imagine, they do not exist. When you type in “Hochegger Srbija” keywords, one of the results is showing Serbian PR association, where you can read:

Društvo Srbije za odnose s javnošću, Resavska 31 11000 BeogradWeb: http://hochegger.co.yu; http://www.hochegger.com;. Godina osnivanja: Maj 2007. godine.When you type in their local web address www.hochegger.co.yu – NO WEB SITE. Can you imagine? They want to be a leader in the communication industry in Serbia and they don’t have a web site. They have posted the web address that doesn’t work. And the worst of all, it means their contact email address doesn’t work.


It means that Hochegger Srbija communication agenciy’s communication channel over the internet is closed. You can not even find a sign that says “Coming soon”. May be they will build their web site after they overtake the Serbian PR market.

Take a look at their mother company web site in Wienna. Now, can you tell me if their communication (message, visual sense, emotions it triggers …) goes along with our simple, local people in Serbia who drink “slivovitz” and eat garlic and bacon. Look at that foggy pictures in flash (upper right corner of the picture below), that are nervously moving around and look like blurred aquarium (yes, pictures are blurred on purpose).

Surrealism or clear and concise message?

I could understand if they are “creative” advertising agency, so everything is permitted to be foggy and un-clear. But I do believe essence of PR is clear and concise message, not to guess what the author wanted to say (like in Picasso paintings). By the way, it was spinning in my head, when I tried to decipher the message (if there is any message) looking at the pictures of two middle aged gentleman flying like ghosts over the screen.

I am not discriminating, I know Germans (Austrians) are top engineers, managers, scientists, even the best cooks or sweet makers, but I don’t believe they could be the masters for PR (communication) on our local Serbian Dragacevo-Guca-folk-music market. I am not actively involved with PR any more (we have moved to Business Knowledge), so I can say this openly. Who is willing to take a bet with me that this PR agency (I can not even pronounce their name) will be the leader on Serbian market by the end of this year?

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Diane Cromer interview for Emagazin

I have done this interview with Diane Cromer few days ago and published it in emagazin in Serbian. I have translated it for you in English and here it is:

Enjoy it as much as I have enjoyed making it …

If you are a manager, or business man, politician, or just somebody
interested in modern business methods, this fall in Belgrade there is
something you should write down in your agenda. Company “Cromer group” (www.cromer-group.com)
is organizing series of seminars on various subjects like “change
management and motivation”, “advanced PR”, and “business leadership”.
As part of my job as a journalist, I get to go to various trainings and
seminars held by leading business “gurus” from abroad. You have
probably read some of my interviews on the subject. This one I warmly
recommend. I have seen and heard Diane Cromer, and I can tell you her
seminar is something you would never forget.

Who is Diane Cromer?

Diane Cromer is a strategic communications specialist and
organizational development consultant with more than 25 years of
experience in the US and abroad. For the last 12 years she has worked
in Eastern and Central Europe especially in Serbia. She uses her
organizational development expertise and her experience as a former
journalist and business and government communications strategist to
help her clients solve complex business and policy problems.

She started her career as on-air reporter for TV station. While only
23 years old, she was the only woman to travel on the Presidential bus
covering the reelection campaign of former President Gerald Ford. In
her long and successful career, among many big business clients, Ms.
Cromer has worked with three Senators, 13 members of Congress, JBF
Financial Service of Pennsylvania, and American Medical Association.

With IBM Business Consultant Group, Diane managed strategies for
acceptance of key economic reform principles, including small and
medium enterprise development, privatization, and anti-monopoly
measures. She had overseen seminars for SMEs in 10 Serbian towns and

One of the biggest projects that Diane has helped lead was work with
the US Department of Defense Human Resource Management Department between 2005 and 2007 on the restructuring of civil work force. The task was to introduce the new organizational structure for 750,000 civil employees.

Diane Cromer has taught at the Yale University’s Campaign School for
Women and the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of
Business on communications and presentation techniques, where she
taught MBA students business communications, public appearance and

What has motivated you to “come back” to do business in Serbia?

I grew up in Pennsylvania and somehow Serbia reminds me of my
birthplace. Belgrade is situated on two rivers as is the city of
Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania. You have similar sense of humor, you are
hard working resilient people, and of course I have many friends here
in Serbia. Of my last seven birthdays, four of them I have celebrated
in Belgrade. I have worked on and off in Serbia since the spring of
year 2000.

Serbia is a country undergoing deep transformational change. With my
extensive personal experience in communication and change management, I believe I can help that transformation on many levels: in privatization, foreign direct investment, improving effectiveness and efficiency of Serbian businesses. Our company’s is about “Workforce development”. To succeed on the global marketplace employee training itself is not enough. We perform employee assessments, to find out how your work force align to your mission and goals. We partner with HR departments to help create the learning organization.

Everybody who listened to you said that you are excellent teacher. What is needed to successfully transfer knowledge to others?

We use business case studies and practical exercises. We take
examples from the real world and explore them in detail. They are case
studies from international and local companies. This way people can
easily identify with the problem, comparing business practices of
global companies with their local examples. For example in our change
management seminar one team is given to prepare change plan on business merger situation and another on acquisition. What we want to accomplish for our participants is not only to learn the business skills, but to learn how to think and make decisions.

Our seminars are performed as interactive workshops. Forty percent
of the training is in the form of giving formal information (hard
facts, or as some call it – theoretical knowledge), and sixty percent
is as active participation, where participants exercise or practice in
teams. Learning has to be fun, for the people to get deeply involved in
the learning process, they have to enjoy it.

What is the key to managing change?

The most important is to have all employees understand the change.
To be able to demonstrate it clearly so they understand how this change
relates to their own interests and interests of their company. One of
the most important exercises on our trainings is on how to create
organizations vision. Clear vision is the essential element of
successful change management.

The research shows that some 66% of all change management
initiatives fail. The most common reason for failure is that companies
don’t create milestones, or time pointers, and don’t monitor
achievements. They make decision on what needs to be changed, they
start the process of change, but they don’t follow-up on how is the
change really going on. Especially when compared to previously planned
time line of events-changes.

How do you make change happen?

The change is about changing people, and you change them by changing
their attitude and behavior. Also it is about communication.
Communication is not part of change, it is the whole of change. Change
can not be dictated, it must be interpreted to people in the right way,
so it makes sense to them, it needs to be meaningful. They need to
understand the reason for change, especially from their point of view
(what’s in it for them).

Picture from the interview:

diane cromer

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Interview with Isak Adizes for Emagazin

Few weeks ago I have interviewed professor Isak Adizes for Emagazin.
What can I say, when after a month I still feel I have had exceptional
experience. What is so special is his commanding presence, his
incredible energy. And on the other hand, he is so openhearted and

Not a trace of egocentrism and arrogance you would normally find in
our university professors here in Serbia. I have just heard he is the
consultant to the richest man in the world (Carlos Slim). As opposed to
our “great Serbian academic figures” professor Isak Adizes is so humble
in his appearance (like a child). Now I have seen how the real
greatness looks and feels like.

Isak Adizes

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ProPR Magazine – Summer/Autumn 2007

So how am I going to start. Here is an article that got published in ProPR Magazine – Summer/Autumn 2007 issue. The magazine has a very narrow target readership so I hope here in my blog it will have a much broader audience.

Click on this picture to see the aricle or read the text below.


Article: Top managers and PR

From ancient times, every manager’s dream is to run the successful
business enterprise. If you ask managers today, what are the necessary
ingredients for success, they would most likely mention PR, but would
they really understand its importance?

Few years ago, as emagazin associate, I had an interview with Mr.
Thomas Farrell who was the spokesman for US Steel corporation. I asked
him about the importance of PR, and of course, for him PR was pure
communication, and communication is at the bottom of any successful
business enterprise. As little as we realize it, communication is
actually at the bottom of everything we humans do. If you ask managers
in our region what is PR, most of them would assume it as media
relations. Also, when they look for PR agency, they would most likely
look for somebody to just take care of their media relations. Word
“communication” would not even be mentioned.

Most of our top managers would agree they need superior IT
technology, strong knowledge base, developed innovation culture, and so
on. Only few would realize that everything they mentioned would, at the
end, depend on common people, on their own employees. Most of all,
their success or failure, depends on how well they all communicate,
between themselves and with the outside world.

Only ten or twenty years ago that was the problem in western
economies as well. Managers looked at business as science and
technology, not as people communicating knowledge and new ideas. As I
have spent most of my adult life doing business in the USA, I was
personally the witness when this view begun to change. Communication
finally became the “buzzword”. Like it or not, the managers realized
that “PR agency” is actually “Communication agency”. So when they look
to hire them, they would look for the agency that will help them not
only with media relations, but with their complete communication needs.

We live in the world without borders, where information and
knowledge flows freely and undisturbed. To stay competitive on the
global marketplace, any successful business enterprise in our region
needs to have not only PR agency as they see it now, but full service
communication consulting agency, offering complete business
communication solutions. It means having this agency as a business
partner, who understands your communication needs, and have the right
answers to satisfy them.

Author Miodrag Kostic, Owner of “VEZA” Communication consulting agency, www.veza.biz

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This is my first blog post! Why so late?

Miodrag KosticI have been writing for various on-line and off-line publications and have used internet since 1989 (way before web). How come I am just now starting my blog, kind of late in my on-line career?

I don’t know. Probably because few weeks ago I have been at Professor Philip Kotler seminar and he said he is active on his blog (he is 76 years old). Than I was at the Jerry Weisman seminar and at the press conference afterwards, he said we can find everything we want at his blog (and he is in his sixties).

I have just turned 50 and since I am still feeling like 30, here is my personal blog.

Please enjoy it as much as I am enjoying writing it …

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