Priceless Lessons by Maxim Behar: A Story with Governor Bob Miller
The leading PR expert and CEO of the communication agency M3 Communications Group, Inc., Mr. Maxim Behar shared another astonishing personal story in his author’s series Priceless Lessons, which he publishes for BGLOBAL magazine.
Bulgarian Yogurt for Governor Miller
A story about the first visit of an American President in Bulgaria, the breakfast with Bill Clinton and one great love, which helps reviving Bulgarian tourism.
It was cold, wet and windy...
I tried to get to the then Kempinski Hotel, located in the Bulgarian capital Sofia, and tried to cross the small streets behind it, but to no avail... The hotel was surrounded by a thick cordon, at least a kilometer long, of uniformed and civilian police officers, and I had to park my car at least two kilometers away.
Somehow, I crossed the barrier - either with an ID card, or some recognized me and assumed I don’t have bad intentions towards the hotel guests, pardon me – I mean “the very special guests” at the hotel – the entourage of the President Bill Clinton had to arrive in Bulgaria in hours. I entered the hotel lobby already freezing and saw him from afar - a two-meter-tall man in a slightly old-fashioned suit and red tie. Even from afar you could immediately recognize that he was American, and why not... the American Governor.
That's right - the Nevada Governor Bob Miller, with whom I had a meeting and I noticed in front of him on the lobby table an open today’s newspaper "Trud" with a major headline on the front page "Governor Miller - I brought Clinton to Bulgaria." He also recognized me, smiled widely to show his shiny white teeth, reached out to shake hands and said:
- Max, I am Bob, what you are going to drink? ...But before that tell me what it says here, because it could turn into a problem. The President is pretty jealous.
I ordered a cup of tea to warm myself up and quickly translated in English for him the interview, which he had given to the newspaper the day before... He became anxious, but in the end, he said:
- Well, that is the truth, everybody can interpret it the way they want.
It only took us a few minutes to realize that a long, sincere and heartfelt friendship was beginning.
The Governor have already been to Bulgaria once because of the invitation of our then Government to share his experience in tourism.
However, he and his team were the main responsible for turning Nevada from “the kingdom of gambling” to a state of modern tourism, and the whole world was following their unique techniques with interest.
It was getting dark, when the Governor unexpectedly said:
- Max, are there interesting places in Sofia, where we can have a drink, listen to some nice music and have fun?
What a question! Exactly in the boom of piano bars and night clubs in Sofia the answer is obvious.
After half an hour we were already in the fanciest piano bar in the capital district “Iztok”, we had some non-alcoholic cocktails and observed the interesting and colorful world on the stage. Of course, I immediately arranged a special greeting for Governor Miller from the singer and in minutes Bob became the center of attention. As midnight passed imperceptibly, we returned to the hotel. When we reached the revolving doors of the Kempinski Hotel with the governor's pass, several people appeared out of the blue, abruptly opened the doors of my car, and shouted almost in one voice, "Where is Governor Miller? We've been looking for him all night."
President Clinton, who was in Ankara until that night, have arrived earlier and wanted to have dinner with Bob Miller. However, there was no phone signal in the piano bar and the whole security was completely panicked.
That was the first visit of an American president in Bulgaria in the whole history and I was excited. Every mistake or misunderstanding could be a major damage.
The Governor seemed calm in this shocking situation, he got out of the car and said:
- Okay, we are going to have breakfast with the President since we couldn’t have dinner tonight.
On the next events was like a textbook example of how to exit from certain situation with a finesse, which was told to me by the Governor later in that day.
- Bob, where were you all night, I was looking for you to have dinner together, but no one could find you. – with these words Bill welcomed him at 7 am in the morning for an early breakfast.
- Mister President – answered the Governor - since you are in Bulgaria for the first time, you need to know three important things about the country. First of all, the Bulgarians have discovered yogurt. Secondly, they have amazing red wines and thirdly - Bulgarian women are well-known for their beauty...
- Well, I will remember that, but where were you last night?
- I was with my friend. We spent the whole night searching for yogurt in Sofia.
Many, many times Bob Miller has told this great story and we have always burst into laughter and amazed at his ability to always come out positively from difficult situations with a very subtle sense of humor.
In the following years and to this day, Governor Bob Miller remained a real friend of Bulgaria. Together we have organized seven consecutive conferences "Bulgaria Dream Area" which we approximately translated in Bulgarian as "Bulgaria - a country of dreams" and that was happening in times when there was not a single newly built hotel on the Black Sea coast of Bulgaria. Hundreds of participants at the events had the chance to draw from the expertise of the Governor's team and their success in making Nevada great.
But the yogurt story will always remain significant. Even the other day when I called the Governor to congratulate him about the new US President (he is a good friend of Joe Biden for decades) I said: “Bob, you can’t imagine how many new types of yogurt are on the market now. Come back to Bulgaria as soon as possible, because you must have a taste of them all."