THE BUZZ: On October 4th, 2012, I had the pleasure of speaking at the YES Conference in Slovenia. The event was held at the new Plaza hotel in the capital city of Ljubljana. YES (Young Executives Society) is a non-profit organization that helps to connect young executives and entrepreneurs with mentors. It was created by fellow Young Global Leader Andrej Nabergoj in 2004 and is now being expertly run by Jan Pinteric.There were over 100 executives and entrepreneurs in attendance – primarily male – representing various industries from banking and insurance to art and technology. I shared the Power Living philosophy on personal energy management as a 21st Century tool for success. We talked about techniques such as:
- “single-tasking” – focusing on one thing versus multi-tasking which is nearly impossible except for with two mundane tasks
- “time-synching” – programming your tasks to synch with your circadian rhythm for peak performance.
Many of the concepts and techniques were probably new and yet still well-received. As a wonderful treat, I was given a gift from YES of a caricature created by Boris Oblak of Slovenia. Slovenia is in Central Europe and boasts a population of approximately 2 million people. Formerly a part of Yugoslavia, Slovenia became an independent country in 1991. Some of the business infrastructure we have in America – such as the Small Business Administration – does not yet exist in Slovenia. This is one reason why the success of YES is so impressive. The association has grown with the development of the market to become the leading one of its kind.
On October 5th, I was invited to give a talk at the Faculty of Economics at the University (FELU) of Ljublijana. With over 6,000 students, the FELU is both a national leader and an internationally recognized academic and research institution in the fields of business and economics.
I spoke for the Sustainability Leadership and Inspiration Academy. The Academy is organized like a business school course, allowing executive students access to different aspects of business practice with prominent lectures from established institutions from Slovenia and abroad. The Academy is sponsored by the BMW Group. I provided an overview of the $355 billion global Lifestyles of Health & Sustainability (LOHAS) market which is focused on health, the environment, social justice, personal development and sustainable living. I also shared thoughts from the recent Clinton Global Initiative, as well as impressions from various discussions at the World Economic Forum events.
I was extremely impressed by how FELU is incorporating messaging around sustainability throughout the campus – from reminders of how much water you’re using in the bathrooms to signage on the steps encouraging you to walk.
The University even has a solar power plant on the roof with 432 modules with a total power of 105 kW. At a time when both the environment and social responsibility have an increasingly important role the Faculty of Economics and the Faculty of Electrical Engineering recognized the potential of unused roof surfaces, as a source of extra income both in the form of exploitation and sale of electricity. The plant also is expected to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 57.84 tons annually.
I must thank Monika Lapanja for inviting me to the campus, Maja Urh Kožuh for coordinating so much and Professor Adriana Rejc Buhovac for allowing me to speak with her students. Be sure to watch Women: Slovenia’s Untapped Resource which features Maja talking about the MBA Programme. It was also a pleasure meeting Secretary General of the University, Marjan Smonig. Another treat was seeing the journal China Today in their library. My mom was the first distributor of that journal in the late 80s – under contract with the People’s Republic of China.When I flew into Vienna on the morning of October 3rd, Jan asked me if I wanted to go to the hotel in Slovenia and rest, or have an active day. Of course, I said “Let’s go!” Slovenia borders Italy to the west, Austria to the north, Croatia to the south and southeast and Hungary to the northeast. We took advantage of this prime location by driving straight to the Croatian Coast. Along the way, I saw the landscape from Austria to Slovenia to Croatia.
Croatia’s Adriatic Sea coast contains more than a thousand islands. We met Matej Cer and he took us on his boat to Cres. With a population just over 3,000, the island-town of Cres is idyllic. It’s a walking city with narrow streets and no cars. The marina is full of boats of all sizes. We stayed overnight and then went for a walk around the entire island the next morning. I even taught Jan and Matej yoga alongside the water. We made it back to Ljubljana just in time for my talk!
The last day, we drove into the mountains of Slovenia to visit a completely sustainable home and biodynamic farm built by Miro Zitco. He and his beautiful wife Metka made us a vegan lunch from their garden, including mushrooms from the surrounding forest. It was divine! It was an example of how many in Slovenia are going beyond simply organic to biodynamic – a method of organic farming that emphasizes the holistic development and interrelationships of the soil, plants and animals as a self-sustaining system. Be sure to view the video on Slovenia: Sustainability in Action.
That evening, we drove to Trieste, Italy to meet some of Jan’s friends. I love how close the countries are enabling you to be in Slovenia, Italy and Croatia in one day if you wanted to. We came back for dinner on the coast of Slovenia which is just as beautiful. That gave me enough time to get a couple of hours of sleep and head back to Vienna for my flight! If you want a beautiful time, I highly recommend a visit to this region. All in all, I made many new friends and visited some great sites, including the Zdrava trgovinica health food store that puts ours to shame.
Contributed by Teresa Kay-Aba Kennedy, Ph.D., MBA.