Maxim Behar: "Time is the new currency now"
The PR expert Maxim Behar was a special guest on Darik Radio with Niki Kanchev to talk about his new book "The Morning After" and to comment on current topics related to the PR business, the COVID-19 pandemic and leadership.
Host: A fast-paced start of today's show and we didn't choose this song by accident, because Iron Maiden and their intelligent and clever singer Bruce Dickinson are counting down two minutes to tomorrow, two minutes to midnight, two minutes to the nuclear apocalypse, two minutes to what's about to happen. Bruce Dickinson's colleague, Bulgarian singer Maxim Behar, is counting down five minutes to tomorrow in his new book The Morning After. Why is there such a difference, Mr. Behar, of three minutes, where is it lost, what for?
Maxim Behar: First, Nikki, good afternoon. Hello to the listeners of your wonderful show. The difference is not in three minutes, the difference is probably in the rhythm and the speed, because Iron Maiden have a very different rhythm from what I describe in the book. Of course, "The Morning After" is an image. The book covers everything that happens in the business world between the beginning of March 2020 and the end of September. We all know that we are in a pandemic, now even the children’s first word will be "mom", and then they will say COVID, because this is the most frequently mentioned word in the media, in the families, in our conversations. Everything that happens, however, along with COVID, along with the virus, along with all this chaos that occurred at the very beginning, turned the world upside down, changes the business completely, changes our relationships. And I decided to share my thoughts, emphasizing the fact that there are five minutes, there are really five minutes in which you have the right and opportunity to think, to position yourself, and if you can not make quick decisions, it will happen tomorrow. And in this tomorrow, if you are not ready, you will simply either leave the business, or you will not succeed in what you have started, or you will simply not understand the new changing situation.
Host: I understand, your pathos is absolutely justified, because many people who give jobs to other people have fallen into a stalemate. People who have to go to work are also afraid to go to work because they will get infected there. In general, the whole world that we have been building for years was suddenly put into test. And not from a revolution, not from such a natural or at least…
Maxim Behar: Or wars.
Host:… yes, or war. And suddenly something completely different rearranged the world's agenda. The motto of the book is actually "COVID-19 brought "new normal" and business leaders must adjust their behavior. Read how it can be done.”. Is your book a guide with tips for living after COVID and with COVID?
Maxim Behar: Rather, these are my thoughts on what happened and I share how I managed my business, what I was focused on, what were my priorities. I have many examples from American companies of how they have experienced, firstly, different crises and secondly, the reasons why this crisis is radically different from all the others so far. Because we all see that this is not an economic crisis in the sense in which we have seen, in Bulgaria we have seen two, even three. One was in the early 1990s, the other in 1996 - empty shops, $ 3 salaries and everything else. No, the shops are full at the moment, everything is there. However, entire industries are disappearing - tourism, airlines, hospitality. Last week I was in Zurich in a rather large hotel, relatively, in the city center, I was the only visitor to this hotel, the only one. And the breakfast that was in the morning was just for me. Just things we've never seen…
Host: They just knew you. And they closed the restaurant.
Maxim Behar: Probably yes. But the world is very different and I think there are two very important things that every businessman or entrepreneur or even a person who would like to cope in the current situation must have two feet on which to stand. One - never give up, never despair, never say "That’s it, life has changed, what happened. I'm leaving, my business is closing." No, fight until the end. And the second, which is the first - I think we need to make decisions quickly, quickly. Time is the new currency right now, and that's probably what my next book will be called. Time is really the new currency, because if you delay 10, 15, 20 minutes, 1 hour one decision, everything can be ruined.
Host: Okay, let's be even more specific. You run one of our largest PR and advertising agencies, M3 Communications Group. Inc., an event organizer. You are currently unemployed from this point of view. There are no events.
Maxim Behar: It's not like that. For years…
Host: You haven't organized anything in the last 4-5 months. Or at most one or two events.
Maxim Behar: No, we organized several big events. That was an exception, of course.
Host: But that's a little bit for you.
Maxim Behar: Yes, we did a few big ones a before. However, you know, I've been trying for years, and in my previous book The Global PR Revolution I described it in great detail, trying to get away from the business of events, because especially in America and England, it's not very typical for PR companies. There are companies that are specified in event management, companies that deal only with this - organizing events. As this requires a very large resource, of course, the turnover is good, but it is not a very typical consulting business. While I have been trying for years, to place my company M3 Communications Group, Inc. in a niche of the consulting business, to be able to work with our heads, with our minds, with our brains.
Host: Yes, there is an easier, tighter team, you don't have to gather 30-40 girls.
Maxim Behar: No, this is simply another type of business. Just another type of business.
Host: Did you dismiss any people?
Maxim Behar: No, not one. However, I have three people that I have appointed and I have not seen them yet. Because we only have Zoom conversations, ie. online calls and we use different platforms, but mainly Zoom. I didn't fire any people and I think that for these seven months, already under such stress, it was a great achievement and this is mainly due to the very strong team I have, which very quickly adapted to its new obligations, literally in two or three days. .
Host: How did you motivate them, what did you tell them?
Maxim Behar: The motivation is very clear - that we have to prove our good qualities. I stay away from superlatives such as "best", "biggest" and everything else, because these things change. But we have to prove that we are professionals mainly in front of our clients. By the way, we have several new clients for the last two or three months, which is also a result of our good organized work, which is also described in the book, specifically. We mobilized very well, we tightened up and I am moving very well so far. It also gave me motivation, in fact, to sit down and pack…
Host: Is this literally a book you wrote in a few days?
Maxim Behar: I wrote it in a week to 10 days and the publishing house "Faber" in Veliko Tarnovo, also super professionals, published it in a week.
Host: Well done. Let's greet them. They also published Gogo Lozanov's book, which is a very good edition.
Maxim Behar: Yes, they are wonderful publishers. And especially the owner of the publishing house Neyko Genchev is an extremely intelligent and very adequate person, I even wrote him a message on Facebook and told him "For the first time I see a person who works like me in Bulgaria." And he said, "Well, it's good that we met."
The important thing is that the book, in my opinion, gives very specific advice and guidance on how a person can get out of the situation we are in now. There are a few enclosures I've made in the end, they're even a different color paper. One is "100 Tips for Modern Leaders." They could be 50, they could be 150, I just decided that 100 is a more tempting number. I also wrote, you know, it can be a little offensive to some, however, "Instructions on how to behave during online calls." Because we are really in a different environment, we work mainly on online platforms and sometimes I go into business calls and see someone sitting at the table…
Host: In his pants.
Maxim Behar: You can't see that from the camera. However, in front of him a bottle of beer, a sandwich. In online calls, we have to behave as if we were live in our offices. With a tie or well dressed, combed. Politely, without wasting much time. There is also an enclosure that is "Atypical Tips for Atypical Leaders."
Host: So, what does it reveal?
Maxim Behar: These are tips like calling once a week to a friend you haven't heard from in five years, for example. Or once every two weeks to hear two songs that are from your teenage years and remember…
Host: Why? To gain some energy?
Maxim Behar: That's right, to have energy, to remember the past, to have positive feelings. You know how it is with the songs of the Beatles and many other bands we grew up with, including Iron Maiden, you instantly change your mood for the better. And my publisher, when I sent him the manuscript, called me and said, "I’m very interested in the atypical advices, but there's one I'll never follow." I told him "Which one?". There you advise a manager to stand in front of the mirror for 10 minutes every day, at least. He says "I can't." But really if you are a manager, if you communicate with people, you communicate with people, if you are a leader, because this book is written for leaders, not so much for managers, and now I will tell you what the difference is. I think you have to act like a leader, dress like a leader. You don't have to wear bow ties, but you should have taste, style and that's why these ten minutes in front of the mirror are a must. The main motto of the book is actually the difference between managers and leaders. And I found this difference in a prefix of a Bulgarian word and it is the following: managers, of course, manage, this is their business - to manage businesses, while leaders only direct.
Host: They manage and direct, yes.
Maxim Behar: For me, this is the simple difference. The leader must give guidance, the leader must have ideas on how to get out of situations, to help. I call my colleagues every day or meet them at Zoom and say "What can I do for you?". This is the job of a leader. And that's why I think a lot of people would like it and read it, and I'll tell you what to take out or remember from it. You know, I travel around the world a lot, I talk on different world forums, a few years ago at the forum in Davos we sat next to each other with the senior manager and he asked me "Max, what do you expect from this forum?". And I told him, "One sentence, nothing more." And he looked at me and said, "Which one?" I shout, "I don't know what, I'll hear it now." And he "But how, why a sentence?". Sometimes a sentence heard in a presentation, on a radio show, on a TV show, in a meeting even between businessmen, can change your life. A sentence that you suddenly expose to your thoughts, to your business affairs. And so I think that if every one of my readers finds this sentence in this book, and it's full of such sentences, literally on every page or every second page, it can be very useful.
Host: Yes, you are one of the people who can synthesize. One step back, what is happening with your other book, what is its fate, are there any translations somewhere, did it sell well, are you satisfied?
Maxim Behar: The Global PR Revolution came out in America last year on October 15.
Host: Yes, on Amazon.
Maxim Behar: By the way, what date are we today? Oh my gosh. 15th. Exactly one year ago…
Host: Happy anniversary.
Maxim Behar: Thank you. One year from my book. He is currently in a place where I have not even dreamed in my wildest dreams. It is currently in the Top 100 best-selling books in history, PR books, of course, it is in eighth place. And this is a ranking made by a BookAuthority organization. On board of BookAuthority are people like Bill Gates, Ellen Musk. Great, these are famous writers, Eric Weiner is on this board, Down Brown is on this board. Of course, they don't appreciate it, but it's a very complex system of sales plus likes, plus positioning in various bookstores and libraries around the world. In America, it is in absolutely every, even the smallest provincial library. Currently, according to BookAuthority, it is No. 6 for the best PR books for 2020, but this place, Number 8 for the best PR book in history, "… of All Time", as the ranking, makes me think it's obviously interesting and these nearly 400 pages give interesting information to a lot of people. Released next week in Iran, currently being translated in China.
Host: If it comes out in Iraq, I will congratulate you.
Maxim Behar: If it comes out in Iraq, it will be a good sign, by the way.
Host: You mentioned authorities like Musk, like Gates, but one of the authorities for you personally, for sure, is your father. You start with him. At the age of 14 he called you and said "Max, you have to start working this summer, you can't wander the streets." How much is old Mr. Behar in this book?
Maxim Behar: He is everything.
Host: And how much did you upgrade?
Maxim Behar: Oh, no. I'm not sure I've upgraded him. He was a great man, and I know that maybe a month or two before he left, I told him, "Dad, if I can reach 10% of you." He looked at me and said, "You have surpassed me." I told him "No, it's not like that." An extremely balanced, intelligent person, without emotions. Very good, very positive, very wise. I can't make comparisons of who has surpassed whom, but I think that what I have taken from him and there is no other person to whom I am so grateful. . In fact, I started with this incident because I was almost 14 years when he just told me that I had to go to work and I started as a carpenter in the factory "Serdika", forging crates for milk. At the same time, however, he sent me a few months earlier to the Pavlovo neighborhood community center to study English because he told me that I would not do anything without language. And these are some things that…
Maxim Behar: Yes, after that I spent five years in a factory as a locksmith and you know I still go back to this factory and meet its director, keep in touch with my friends Vankata Golev, Vlado. From time to time around the New Year we always gather for a glass of brandy with salad. These are good memories and one has to keep them in one's heart because they make one human.
Host: Yes, people need to know two and two hundred, as my father used to say. Maxim Behar introduced us to "The Morning After". Good luck, today is the premiere in Greenwich, 6pm.
Maxim Behar: Niki, thank you very much and I wish you many more successes and I look forward, we look forward, we all look forward, and your listeners and viewers look forward for your book.
Listen to the whole interview here.