Mirror Review Magazine: Maxim Behar's Great Success from a Machinery Worker to a Global Entrepreneur
The award-winning PR expert and M3 Communications Group, Inc. CEO Maxim Behar shared in an interview for the global business magazin Mirror Review about his long successful career and professional achievements in the PR industry, the importance of having strong leadership skills and how to implement them in overcoming the unexpected changes the COVID-19 pandemic brought to the global business landscape.
Recently, there have been numerous revolutions in leadership practices, particularly due to changes in communication amongst the people. Social media has transformed the entire world for the better. This transformation indicates the two main pillars - communications and knowledge. Thus, today’s leaders are required to deliver duties to their team in a way that they must also be recognized as ‘mini leaders’ within their working responsibility. This completes the cycle of leadership where a leader creates a platform for another leader to be born.
“I am strongly convinced that only horizontal way of management can be the right leadership in the modern world. Moreover, the difference between a manager and leader must be understood by everyone involved in business, small or big. Manager means to manage today, leader means to lead towards tomorrow,” says Maxim Behar (CEO and Chairman of Board at M3 Communications Group, Inc.)
Adhering to his candid opinions on leadership, Maxim has been serving as one of the prominent global leaders in the media and communications industry for over two decades. He is a globally-renowned PR professional, entrepreneur, diplomat, and media expert, and one of the pioneers of the PR business in the Europe region.
An Esteemed Career
Maxim started his career as a machinery worker in a small factory before graduating in International Business in Prague—where his father was sent on a diplomatic mission. In 1994, he started his company—M3 Communication Group, Inc.—in a small kitchen. Over the years, he has transformed the company into a machine for innovative projects and leadership in the Public Relations business. Moreover, he successfully completed the Harvard Kennedy School Executive program in 2019.
“Throughout the years, we had hundreds of awards and peaks climbed and when it happened always, we were looking for the next peak to reach. And it has never been easy,” asserts Maxim. Today, M3 Communications Group, Inc. is a benchmark of high precision in the Public Relations business courtesy of its high level of innovation and creativity.
The company has been recognized as the Best Consultancy in Eastern Europe by the Holmes Report and was nominated in 2021 among the Best PR Companies in Europe by PRWeek. Maxim too was awarded the Best PR professional in Europe in 2020. “Great recognitions which mark successful stops on the journey to the top, which is different and higher every year,” he continues.
Entering the PR Business
Remembering the words of Winston Churchill, “You can achieve a lot of things with journalism, but you must know when to quit”—Maxim quit journalism as the managing editor of the largest then Bulgarian newspaper “Standard”. Starting a one-man-show adverting’s company, Maxim soon realized that his knowledge and experience will be much more applicable to the Public Relations business—which then was completely unknown in the country. Since then, M3 Communications Group, Inc. has been among the leaders in the PR business in Bulgaria as well as the Eastern Europe region.
In 2002, M3 Communications Group, Inc. started its amazing cooperation with Hill+Knowlton Strategies—which was an additional boost to its success. M3 Communications Group, Inc. has been widely known for its three important and competitive achievements—24/7 care for the clients’ needs, transparency & integrity, and a very high level of professionalism for over 26 years in the industry. “What is more important—all those three characteristics we develop every single day and accommodate them to the new reality. But if we need to mention just one unbelievably strong side of the company, then it will be constant innovation,” adds Maxim.
Making a Difference
Maxim combines all the three main responsibilities—Founder, Leader, and Manager. He is constantly trying to make a difference in these roles in different projects and timings. He believes that each leader must understand his/her responsibilities, particularly during difficult and unpredictable times. In his daily work, Maxim relies on the Board of Management members and each of them has specific tasks to control or support.
Oftentimes, Maxim arranges 5 or 10 minutes Zoom meetings with the board members to coordinate important decisions and clients’ projects. He believes that this is one of the great advantages in modern management via online platforms as traditionally it would take at least a day to arrange such meetings. “Undoubtedly this will be the future, it takes minutes to see each other online as anyway we all are available in front of our laptops,” he affirms.
Impacts of the Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic brought unexpected changes in the global business landscape. One of them was remote working and not having personal contacts with the clients, and even between the team, partners, and vendors. The environment impacted almost all the industries; however, Maxim believes that the PR industry is among those with deep and significant impacts.
“My point of view is that all those facts brought to a forever lasting change in the style of management and leadership,” comments Maxim. According to him, working from home, from a hotel lobby, park, or a coffee shop has numerous advantages—but requires a completely different way of management and a new style of creating brand new teams. He further mentions that creating teams online will be a challenge for any business in the forthcoming years; however, it will be particularly a must to happen in public communications.
Turning the Wheel
In response to the pandemic, Maxim took some logical and purely business decisions. He changed the way business operated so that no client was lost and no employee was laid-off. With hard work, the company managed to turn the wheel and convinced all clients that they need its services more than ever—to communicate properly with their teams and employees and with their customers, vendors, and stakeholders.
This message was very positively accepted and as a result, M3 Communications Group, Inc. did not have a single client left. Rather, with clever marketing and new services, the company managed to get new clients including some of the big international corporations. “Never consider crisis management of a company as the time for tough decisions, but as time to learn and overcome new challenges,” says Maxim.
The Pursuit of Survival
According to Maxim, businesses that learned the lessons from the pandemic and put themselves in a completely new base may survive in the near future, but the rest will be put at a huge risk. “We live in a new world and life will be never like before. If 2020 was just a rehearsal of how to cope with the new life, 2021 will be the year to prove who and how learned the lessons,” comments Maxim. He anticipates that a majority of modern leaders will understand this and the number of businesses that survived will be higher than the ones that failed.
A Stronger Involvement in Decision-making
Despite being a fan of the horizontal style of management, Maxim believes that today’s leaders should have a stronger involvement in the decision-making processes. Presently, companies need strong and immediate transformation, however, teams are often confused and insecure and clients may hesitate whether to implement the “golden rule” in crisis to cut first marketing and public relations expenses.
Maxim demonstrated a presentation a few years ago which was entitled “PR men never give up”. “If I could make the same presentation now, I would name it: This business now is only for brave people who can take fast decisions,” he adds. He believes that more managers and leaders will understand this and will develop the relevant abilities to be brave in 2021.
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