Pastéis de Nata

Nah, you haven’t been lost. And this is not a food blog, I assure you. pasteis-inspirefulness-1
The reason I’m presenting you the recipe of this delicious pastry is the fact that I love to travel and taste good local food. What is more, it is no secret that I spent 6 months in Portugal some time ago and I feel like it’s my second home! 🙂

When visiting this wonderful country, you need to try Pastéis de nata, a Portuguese egg tart pastry. The most famous ones (referred to as Pastéis de Belém) are to be found in the famous pastry shop in Lisbon. They are indeed delicious!

So finally, last night, I decided to go ahead and bake them. I was a bit scared to spoil them as I’m not a typical Nigella Lawson in the kitchen. Believe me, if I managed to bake such a dessert, you also will! Mouth-watering. That’s the only adjective that comes to my mind when I think of what came out of the oven…

Pasteis de Belem Continue reading

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How My Analytical Skills Helped Me Stop The Bast**d From Flying To The Dominican Republic… [Part II]

It’s about time I shared the rest of the story with you…
If you still haven’t read part I, you will find it HERE.

Ok, back to the crazy story.
In the hostel I already was wondering whether I should block my cards (both debit and credit). Everyone advised me not to. Why should I? They haven’t been stolen, right? So what else could happen?
Yeah… always trust your own guts! That one time I didn’t.

I came back home. Disgusted with what happened in Madrid (and I don’t think I’ll ever go back there to be honest). In the end, it was just some money that was missing after all. Life continued.

I remember that Friday evening very well… It was one week after I came back from Madrid. My flatmates went for a party. I stayed home, feeling like watching movies and just staying in bed. When the movie was over, I remembered to pay for a small thing from my credit card. I opened my online bank account and… to my surprise… it was showing I had to transfer around 1,000 EUR to my bank. I was like… WHAT? It was a frigging mistake! I double checked. I thought it was a bad dream. I saw a couple of transactions I hadn’t made. It was clear: someone had been using my credit card! Continue reading

Travel Around The World!

Many of you (like… hundreds? ;)) have asked me how the heck it is possible that I manage to travel the world. Do I earn a fortune? Nah, and actually far from that. (Especially now that I have quit my job.) Did I have unlimited days off from work when I used to travel like crazy? Nope, just the same amount as the other colleagues! 

So what is the magic trick? 
Well, first of all, I don’t live like a queen, I don’t need to buy all the fancy gadgets (such as iphone), I don’t ride a sports car, I don’t wear posh clothes. As a matter of fact, I use a decent smartphone device, my car is super old (sometimes I tend to enter it from the passenger’s side when the driver’s door is locked! and no-one knows why…) and if I wear any cool stuff it’s because I designed it on my own and my mom sewed it as per my design 😉 You know, there are people for whom “to be” is more important than “to have”…

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Give Yourself a Break

Nowadays we do everything on the hoof, we are usually stressed and fully booked. As we live in a fast paced environment, none of us has actually time for “il dolce far niente”. While at work it became normal, it doesn’t have to be that way in your private life!

So what happened? What have we done to ourselves? It doesn’t matter if you’re a manager, nurse, teacher or stewardess. We all need to RELAX.

Work life balance, they said. It’s gonna be easy to manage, they said.

While some of us have no problem combining it all, there are people who still struggle. We all know them, don’t we?

Fortunately, today, more and more CEOs realize the fact that a happy employee is a more productive employee. So the employees are encouraged to go to the gym, swimming pool or tennis clubs, just to name a few. Most of technology companies allow their employees to work from home so they can spend more time with their families. Why not to take advantage of all this? Continue reading

When life gives you lemons… grab tequila & salt!

Many of you ask me how to stay motivated when you’re sad or feel powerless. I am flattered, guys. Thank you for trusting me. I must admit, the most difficult task is to motivate yourself, even if you’re good at motivating others. Managers and HR people will know what I’m talking about.

The trick is to keep breathing, as Shirley Manson, the lead vocalist of Garbage, would say.

I recently found an excellent quote:

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Another small success. Checked.

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Remember me telling you about taking up running?

It was a month ago.

Now I run 7km. I mean I run. I don’t walk. I run. Who would have ever thought… 😉 I hated running with all my heart when I was a teenager. Well, look at me now! Continue reading

B2B or Beer2Beer, that is the question…

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Frankly, I’m having mixed feelings after Grow Up Start Up event that took place on 19-20 June in Warsaw, Poland. I’m not gonna talk about the things I didn’t like though. I’ll focus on the positive outcome instead. Because THERE ARE a couple of excellent take aways for me after these 2 days.

First of all, contacts! I truly believe I found myself in the right place at the right time. We decided with a colleague of mine to skip a discussion panel and go for a beer. There, we figured out how our visions of running our own start-ups are similar. Suddenly, a bunch of people joined us at the table and we continued our inspiring conversations in a bigger group (have a look at the photo above, it speaks for itself ;)). What I noticed was the fact that they were all open-minded people who go for such events from time to time and who know what networking really is. Yep, most probably that’s why it was incredibly easy for all of us to communicate so well and take advantage of that opportunity. Continue reading

Just another diary entry of my own :)

I’ve just found what I wrote one week after I had quit my job. Oh dear, it sounds so optimistic 🙂

Just look at this…

“It’s been an incredible week for me. I think I’ve never been busier indeed. Meetings, catch-ups, good readings, consultations, workshops…

I went for jogging! First time time this year. Finally.

I baked tasty muffins. With almonds and white chocolate. Yummy…

I walked around the city taking different streets than usually. Discovered various facades of the buildings I hadn’t noticed so far, new shops, new cafes. I started to see colors and hear sounds, I smiled at people. Before I had been smiling too, and they had been smiling back at me but this time I was more relaxed 🙂 I am relaxed… Continue reading

Why networking is so damn important?

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This will be the very first of a series of posts about my favorite topic, which is networking.

We all network. Some do it better, some do it worse. With various results. Almost all of us have Facebook or Twitter account, a significant percentage of all professionals around the world also have a LinkedIn profile. But this is an online universe. Meanwhile in parallel universe…

Exactly. What about the real life networking? Do you actually realize how important networking is for your business or your professional career? Do you benefit out of it?

In order to help you answer all these questions, let me first touch base on the networking itself.

A network, as I see it, is a net of contacts one knows personally or virtually. Obviously, it is more effective and beneficial to network once you know someone from real life, when you can “put the name to the face” as we say it in corporate language.

I had a chance (and a pleasure) to work in a multinational (also virtual) environment for about 6 years so I’ll be sharing with you some examples from my own experience.

There are no doubts that networking is a great opportunity for you and there could be only benefits out of it (provided you do all the right things). Apart from the obvious reason of having multiple connections, a huge net of potential business partners, clients, colleagues or acquaintances, there is one thing you should bear in mind before you even start networking: this may change your life.

I’m not kidding. Let me give you an example.

Say you have been working for some time now in a company / corporation and you wish to advance in your career. You apply for the desired position within that organization but in another department. You have a great CV, some excellent achievements and the interview went extremely well. Now imagine there is also Michael applying for that position. And he has a very similar profile. You are both strong candidates and both look promising. Say Michael met up with a couple of folks from that department sometime back and he offered his help in preparing that difficult report the team were struggling with. He also mentioned several times that he would be interested in working on some projects carried out in their department. The manager of the department really liked Michael’s report and his proactive attitude. Although he likes you as a candidate, he already knows a bit more about Michael and his skills. Who do you think will get the job?

We hear quite often that networking is just about creating connections. Moreover, it is viewed in the negative light. I’m not denying, it might be the case in some circumstances. What you should realize though is the fact that networking is all about creating and maintaining relationships. How to do it professionally? Well, simply wait for my next post about good practices! 🙂

Go Creative!

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It’s time I told you about my latest big adventure. Big in a sense that it enriched my professional life.

A couple of months ago I applied for a business contest. It was a local initiative supporting new creative businesses. Together with other 21 wonderful entrepreneurs and their teams we made it through to the last stage after a very careful selection. Several weeks of trainings, workshops and integration events were offered to us as a preincubation process.

The trainings included such aspects as social media, e-commerce, marketing, finance, accountancy, business model canvas, creative solutions, effective presentations, among others.

To my surprise, the group turned out to be extremely friendly and not competitive at all. Moreover, we started to help each other by sharing useful information one may need to run their specific business.

I created a closed group on Facebook where we could easily communicate during those weeks of intensive preparations. Let’s only hope we do stay in touch for longer than that 😉

It’s worth mentioning that we had a pleasure to work with very experienced trainers, many of them being actually entrepreneurs themselves.

What I found extremely insteresting was the fact that the best feedback on our businesses we were getting was coming from… the members of our group! I was happy to see people sharing their opinions, ideas and best practices amongst the group. And we still do. This is something priceless indeed. What’s more, two girls surprised us with their decision about joining forces. They both had a similar idea for apparel design. What a great example of combining strong assets! With a competition! 🙂 In my humble opinion, they do match and have all the complimentary skills to build a strong brand. I wish them best of luck. Great story, isn’t it? 🙂

So when the workshops finally finished, it was high time to work on our business models. I remember how sad I felt because I knew something was coming to an end. It was an end to a great chapter of my professional life where we had loads of fun with the group. So now is the time to start serious hard work on the projects. No excuses! Time to act.

Working on my business model helped me realize all the gaps and what was still missing in my plan. Good business exercise, I have to say.

I spent a lot of time thinking on it and planning the strategy. It’s not easy when you are doing something for the first time 😉 But I love to learn new things so it was a great opportunity for me to grow.

After we sent our business models for evaluation, there was one more task to be performed: a creative presentation.

I spent 3 days designing the slide deck, preparing infographics, reasearching data and adequate images, and practicing my speech. No special effects though (such as people jumping around or kids playing with my product – these were applied by my competition ;)).

I did very well in the morning while pitching in front of the jury but I didn’t expect to be chosen as one of the 5 finalists at the end. The reason being my project was very much different from all the others (I’m building an online social platform while others are doing more tangible business, such as carpets, bags, apparel or coffins – yes, you heard me :)).

So when we all gathered in the evening for the final Elevator Pitch contest where 5 finalists were supposed to picth in front of the jury and various guests and my name was announced I almost fainted. Seriously, I didn’t see that one coming… I was totally lost, till the point I forgot how to start my presentation. All the folks were laughing… I can imagine my confused face 😉

But I made it. I pitched and said everything I wanted to say. 3 minutes is not much to present the whole idea of your project nevertheless if you focus on the main aspects you’re able to explain what it’s all about.

I got the 4th place. Which is absolutely AWESOME. The jury said everything was well thought and planned but the project is in its early phase (agreed!).

It made me really happy and gave a boost to continue my work. I know that thanks to hard work and patience I will be successful one day. It is just the beginning of my start-up journey. As a reward, I got Waterman pens (see the picture above), 8 business English classes and accountancy services for 2 months.

I’d like to tell you one thing. I got my prize earlier than that: it was the knowledge gained during the workshops and trainings, contacts and relationships I managed to build throughout all these weeks. This is something I value more than anything else. And this is the main reason why I wanted to take part in this competition.

Thanks to everyone who made this experience so special. Big thanks to the organizers and the creative group. And a very special thanks to my brother who works with me on the project! You guys rock! 🙂

Also, something special to share with you… a trailer of my project. Feel free to share any feedback you’ve got. Thanks! 🙂