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Sergiu Negut: You need to know what you don’t know and to know who to ask

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I met Sergiu on a Thursday morning. He took an espresso, I had a cappuccino and we shared a tasty chocolate cake with caramel and nuts. And so it began our conversation about E.R.S. individual.

Trainart: What is the most important lesson you have learned during your managerial experience?

 S.N.: Well…there isn`t. What changed me, as a human, is that I went to that fancy school (n.red. INSEAD), which was a really brain wash, a business transfusion, which made me see my role in this area and what social impact I may have. Now I see everything in a new light, new amplitude. But it took me a whole year, a year in which I went through a complete experience, my relationship with hundreds of colleagues, the impact of teachers, case studies. A business lesson is not singular, there are thousands of lessons that I learned and they transformed me.

Trainart: How does it goes in a normal day for Sergiu Negut- entrepreneur, intrapreneur, consultant?

S.N.: Sergiu Negut is a combination of an angel business with several stores in care, helping them grow and overcome the struggles appearing from time to time. And I do the same thing for client-companies, but as a  consultant. Which means that, most of his time, Sergiu Negut…talks. He talks with his businesses` partners, talks with other people with whom he may start new businesses. Once in a while, he passes by some conferences, some training programs, some presentations or events. It is a sort of jumble-race which works and fills me with energy.

Trainart: Largely speaking, which were the results of the mentorship program „101 Companies from Stress to Success”?

S.N.:  It was a project during Romanian Business Leaders with the objective to find 101 companies with over 100.000 Euro turnover, with a stable business and to bring them from the time in which entrepreneurs mainly succeeded to gain the equivalent of just a salary, and to offer 2-3 jobs, to the time of maximum performance. We succeeded very fast  to gather 70 mentors, businessmen who had taken the edge of performance before while their businesses boosted up. It went slower with recruiting the companies. After all, the program works, there are 100 companies that benefit of this mentorship and the impact of it over them was, at least, to rethink the entire business.

Trainart: Tell us, shortly, a story about a situation which made you feel empowered/resourceful/spectacular?

S.N.: Many times, when I speak in public, when I have the chance to talk to people, mostly to the newly-launched entrepreneurs or to the employees in corporations who search for resources to become dynamic, innovative, more powerful in their businesses. Then the creativity is dynamism too. I feel empowered because I feel that I have an impact over them. And, on the same level, resourceful, because I have the joy of offering, not just from the books I read, but also from my experience gained from many businesses I helped them grow. Spectacular, because of….yes, I like  when I talk or I try to communicate my messages forward, I do it in a personal way, specific to me.

Trainart: Being a „veteran” in business development, which are the main rules to succeed in business world.

S.N.: „Veteran” sounds like an old, grey man who lives in the past. (laughs)

There are many rules to succeed in business world, there are even many other rules not to mess it up. I believe in entrepreneurship who help you dare and say „ I am going to made it because it is a challenge and because I believe I can”. Second is perseverance. No matter how boring it may sound, 80% of our work is routine and we have to execute, fabulously, the plan we have set to ourselves. Third is frugality. That means that you have to take care of your resources like there are the last ones. It Is a rule that helps you have long term success. I think there is one more which connects the others and act in parallel: you must know what you don`t know and to know  who you ask for it. This self-awareness thing takes time, with many bruises on the forehead got from the above top of the door and many scratches on knees from tripping.

Trainart: Which are the weaknesses of business environment in Romania?

S.N.: We believe that we are malicious, more corrupt, more naive, less elaborate, less sophisticated then our western colleagues. More often I observed two categories of errors: one is to overestimate the sophistication level, to introduce in company evolution, much earlier than necessary, too complicated systems which captivated the organization`s energy. Second error is about attitude. We don’t trust each other enough and this poisons our business relationships. Lack of trust make us have, even in management area, many people who hide their incertitude related to their vision about future. They remain frowning, mean, tough and aggressive with people around them, like this would be the key for success. No, success means the ability to extract at maximum the creative potential from every people you work with. This is an inspirational dimension based, fundamentally, on people trust, on friendship, not just the daily business transaction.

Trainart:  You are Associate Dean of Entrepreneurial Growth at Maastricht School of Management Romania, what is your vision about the future of entrepreneurial education in schools?

S.N.:  I think the entrepreneurial education is not a lesson. Accidentally and , if I am not wrong, there is in a high-school year one subject called „entrepreneurial education”. It is taught by a teacher who somehow managed to be a substitute on that job. The result is that entrepreneurship, based on initiative and creating new things that has never been done before, becomes suddenly a rigid section where some lessons are taught, some lessons are learnt and some tests are given in order to reproduce something that someone told you, for a higher grade. When talking about post-university classes of management, I think that what we try to build in a business school is business` developers, changing agents.

Trainart: Over time you have juggled with many domains (services and medical assurances, pharmaceuticals, commerce, IT&C). Which of these do you enjoy working especially?

S.N.:  Because I enjoy diversity very much, I like all domains that I came forward to. I went close to online commerce because I wanted to know more and I entered „2parale”, I went close to medical domain very much, this is why I am in Intermedicas, I went close to soft development area and I am in SoftIntelligence, I draw close to FMTV area, although not in its core, but more in innovation and marketing, I am glad that I am one of the stockholders of FruFru. At MBA, one of the professors was Chan Kim, the man who invented the concept of Blue Ocean Strategy, before he had published his book. What I remember is that one of the many ways to have a successful business is to take elements of businesses which are validated in another industry, another segment, another niche and to recompose them, combining them with the elements from your based industry in an innovative way.

Trainart: You are invited in an high-class event. You can bring with you 3 leaders from any period of time and any area on Earth. Whom do you choose?

S.N.: I am not a big fan of high-class events (laughs). People I cherish the most are people that I understand beyond the message they deliver or the image they created and I cherish trough the bond I create with them. So from every period of time, from all history and all ages, people I like the most are people I personally met. Of course, at this kind of events, I would go with 3 of my partners from businesses where I am a stockholder.

Everyone sees in a different way a glass of water. An optimist says that the glass is half full; the pessimist that it is half empty; Sergiu Negut is the man who teaches you that all this story is not about the glass, being empty or full, but, instead, it is about how to look at the glass and how tu use it for maximum results.

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