Maxim Behar: The Clover Effect and Successful Bulgarians...
This article has been published at the "Unfiltered" column of the Bulgarian news agency BGNES.
I wish that talented Bulgarians would stay in Bulgaria, enjoy their work, be happy, and that we all would be delighted about that. I want this really bad, and there aren't many people in Bulgaria, at least not the ones around me, who might want something different even for a second.
Bulgaria offers absolutely everything that a person may need in order to be happy. If that person so desires. Bulgaria offers enormous business niches that have somehow slipped through the contradictory and vacillating years of the post-communist transition. Bulgaria still offers the opportunity to those who may not have much money but may have a grand ambition and an innovative vision to succeed in things that haven't been achieved by anyone in the country to date. On top of all that, the new communications and the very f-Generation (i.e. f stands for Facebook) are so fast and limitless that there can hardly be a limit to success for those who truly wish to achieve it.
With all that said, what is it, then, that makes Bulgarians so unhappy, according to global rankings?...
I have met and I keep meeting hundreds of Bulgarians all over the world. I haven't seen anyone among them who failed or is unsuccessful.
That could be the case when they come back to Bulgaria. But that is almost impossible abroad because the very environment is so competitive that it either throws you out, or it lets you in within just a few days.
If we are to imagine how many of our Bulgarian compatriots go to sleep picking the petals off that imaginary clover, and whispering so that nobody would hear them, "Emigrate... stay... emigrate...", then it becomes clear that this dilemma is a national quandary.
Throughout all those 22 years, I've never been against emigration, and I have always deemed the so called "brain drain" grandiose nonsense.
It has been 100 times better, especially during those hyperinflation times in the 1990s, for a young native of Shumen (a city in Northeastern Bulgaria – editor's note) to carry bags in a London hotel, or to deliver pizzas in Ohio than to hang out as an unemployed person in a main street caf? coming up with all kinds of stupid things.
It is 100 000 times better now for a Bulgarian to be abroad and work hard, especially since they must really have certain qualities if they've managed to make it during the recent crisis, than to moan and groan about how bad it is in Bulgaria. Not to mention the fact that in the European Union abroad isn't that much "abroad", really.
So while all these years in which the Bulgarian politicians were quarrelling over who's greater than whom, and who will remain in history, two objective laws have emerged by themselves whose discovery I am always to claim.
The first one is clear: a successful Bulgarian abroad is more useful for Bulgaria than an equally successful Bulgarian at home. Of course, I have great respect for everything that Bulgarians achieve in Bulgaria, and I am one of them, but at the end of the day the person who is successful in New York City, Paris, or Frankfurt, in addition to surviving, develops in a much more competitive environment. This brings only benefits to Bulgaria because these people have to work really efficiently, and those they work with respect them and become aware of their country. And that is really worth a lot. Truly successful Bulgarians are creating little by little a much better image for Bulgaria abroad, and this role of theirs can hardly be commensurate with even the most expensive advertising campaign for our country.
The second objective law: a Bulgarian abroad changes positively at least twice faster than a Bulgarian in Bulgaria. This law can probably be established scientifically but in our everyday life we are snowed under with facts that confirm it without much research.
I happen to know intelligent people that don't observe a single law in Bulgaria but when they get off the plane in London, they start behaving like real Englishmen. In Bulgaria, they are rude and pretentious, they park their cars on sidewalks and shout at the shop assistants. In London, Frankfurt, Paris, or New York, they are "humbler than grass", they smile, and thank politely... In Bulgaria, they are late for work, and find excuses with traffic, their sick child, or the repair works at home... Just a few hundred kilometers west of the Bulgarian border they go to work first in order to demonstrate their hardworking character and commitment...
I don't know whether they are so disciplined and exact because of the air, or whether they drink some kind of special water in Germany, or because of some genetic thing over there... But it will probably be hard to refute the facts that I just described.
It is an evident truth that the Turkish economic miracle nowadays is largely due to the three generations of Turkish workers in Germany. Of course, the first generation – that was outrightly styled "guest workers" – did the worst menial labor but these people got enough money to send their kids to good schools, and taught them the value of hard word; their kids in turn sent their children to prestigious universities, and that influence can already be felt in today's Turkey.
We Bulgarians will hardly have to take this long road, and times are different today. It's just more important to leave clovers, petals, and hesitations aside when taking important decisions.
And look at the facts.
Maxim Behar is a Bulgarian PR and media expert, founder and CEO of one of the leaders on the Bulgarian PR market, M3 Communications Group, Inc. As of January 2012, he is the Chairman of the Czech Republic Office of leading global corporation Hill+Knowlton Strategies. Behar is also the Treasurer and a Member of the Executive Board of the International Communication Consultancy Organization (ICCO), and a member of the Board of the global PR forum in Davos "Communication on Top".
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Not only is money the issue. Other nations have self-respect and discipline and low tolerance or appreciation for rule-breakers. Out of respect for yor new host, and seeing how bad habits from Bulgaria could influence your image, you automatically want to conform. In Bulgaria, the underlying assumption is that people are unruly and need to be controlled. Most developed nations put the trust first and it is up to you to prove your employer right or wrong. There is no one to blame, but yourself. This is not the case in Bulgaria, where, sometimes rightfully so and sometimes not, circumstances are out of your control. It is a matter of culture and standards, which it will take years to (re)build in Bulgaria.
Just my opinion.
It is all a question of human nature. If you get paid well, you want to continue to get paid well and so you work as hard and smart as you possibly can. If you work in Bulgaria, you get peanuts and you are not inspired to work hard. And everyone around you is rude and crude and so you don't feel inspired to be humble and polite.