Daniela Clara Moraru

Entrepreneur. Educator. Influencer.

Wednesday, 24 June 2020

Networking in our post-Covid-19 reality

How will networking look like in our new reality? This was the question to which a very interesting Insead webinar tried to answer yesterday, 23rd of June, just as I was getting ready to celebrate Luxembourg's national day. First year when the public celebrations and gatherings were limited to twenty people. Or was it to hundred people? Nobody really seemed to know if I looked at the amount of people present in Kirchberg's central park. The weather was amazing so people enjoyed celebrating the national day by simply spending time together with their loved ones, friends or family. What could be more amazing that this type of celebration? For me it was perfect, with people I know, I appreciate and love spending time with.

But if you take a moment to look back at the last three months, among the three below, which best describes your approach to networking since the beginning of the pandemic?
a. focused on smaller/tighter network (people you already know)
b. about the same as before
c. engaged in growing/expanding network.
Usually in times of crisis, people tend to focus on what they know and this applies also to their relationships. I'm certainly one of those who have chosen a as an answer. I used the confinement to catch up with some old friends since more than 15 years, with some older friends aged over 65, I didn't really have much time to think about building new relationships. Because this is what networking is all about, in my opinion. 

Network: as you notice, the word "network" includes the word "work"; and because people like their zone of comfort, studies show that a surprising percentage of 90% of people don't make the effort to talk to people they don't know. Our friends are usually people we share values and interests with, and this means we also have access to similar knowledge.  


Thursday, 4 June 2020

Most important things in life are unmeasurable

Would you apply ROI to running water? Or to the cooling system? Or to having WiFi in a hotel, for example? Many business people analyze investments and their returns to their extremes, but when it comes to digital transformation projects, the KPIs should no longer be the usual suspects, the digital transformation becoming essential to companies. Just like the most important things in life are unmeasurable. Because indeed, the success of the digital transformation will ultimately decide which companies will be winners and which ones will be losers, in the context of our continously increasing competitive market. If in the past our competitors were the guys across the street, whom we knew and understood, nowadays we compete in an international and digital environment.  

There were so many interesting insights in today's conversation on "Leading a data-driven transformation" with Alain Bejjani, CEO of Majid Al Futtiam Holding. I found him brilliant and very inspiring!
As much as we know about the human nature, people change only when there is a big need to change, when they're forced to do it; so any transformation is closely linked to changing the culture and the mindset of the organization. Which means it's essential to create the right context for a company's transformation. In the same time, a company also needs to right people, the best people to lead the company and keep it competitive on the long term. Therefore, helping the employees to continuously improve their skills has been a key element to the transformation in which Alain's company has successfully embarked since 2015, which included, for example, creating a training institute within the company. For your information, Majid Al Futtiam Holding builds and operates shopping malls, movie theaters and hotels. 
Then, the digital transformation should not and could not exist in absence of overall transformation. Another extremely strog point mentioned by Alain was that the most important element in any transformation process is the pace at which it happens, it has to keep moving, just like water. I absolutely loved this example because it's so powerful and easy to understand.  
Another very powerful example was the French fries when he talked about sharing the vision with the different teams in his organization; you can talk a lot about French friend and people would still not get  it. But it takes just one fry to make the difference: you taste it and then you get it. 
Being active in a brick and mortar business, Alain Bejjani mentioned how important is in the digital transformation process the ability of the executives to drive the advancement in the technology and to make it happen on the ground. In terms of data use and data protection, Alain highlighted that in most of the cases the data was already there. It used to be handwritten in the past and now is digital, therefore allowing a larger amount of people to access it, while respecting and complying with the GDPR regulations.

How can companies be a force for good and help consumers in their daily life? Alain mentioned a project in which his company's anonymized data can help governments with their policies on public health. I found fascinating the example of a project in the UAE shared by Alain. Imagine that you go to buy your groceries and upon payment you are informed of the number of calories acquired, let's say 12.000. Now imagine that you are offered the possibility to get the same type of groceries but with only 8.000 calories, by receiving recommendations for other similar products. An excellent example on how a company can focus on the customer value and have a huge impact in terms of health and well-being. 

The conclusion on today's discussion was “People first, People last!”, a great summary by professor Joerg Niessing, professor of marketing, who moderated the discussion with David Dubois, also a brilliant professor of marketing at INSEAD. 

Thank you, Insead, for such a stimulating discussion!

#neverstoplearning #marketing #communication

Thursday, 28 May 2020

Make love, not war!

‘What will the world look like after the pandemic?’
‘The same, but worse!’
This answer of the amazing emeritus professor Manfred Kets de Vries is probably a good introduction to the way he’s capable to say so much by saying so less. 
Today I had the great privilege to see him live in a webinar proposed by Insead. He touched a lot of subjects close to my heart, I wish the webinar could have lasted longer!
He talked about narcissistic leaders and how some can be paranoid and psychopaths, a quite high percentage of them working in the finance industry. He pointed out how a bit of narcissism is good for any leader because it gives him confidence and how women, who are generally less narcissistic than men, are also more vulnerable. 

I’ve learned a lot today and let me give you a quick challenge. Would you guess which is the closest animal to Homo sapiens?
a) dolphin 
b) gorilla
c) chimpanzee 
Did you find the correct answer among the three above?
If you’ve chosen c, you’re close to the correct answer. Because it’s actually the bonobo or Pygmy chimpanzee with whom we, humans, share 98% of our DNA. It’s super interesting that the closest animal to homo sapiens is characterized by a matriarchal society which could have as motto: ‘make love, not war’. Why is that, you might ask? Well, because sex rather than agression is used to regulate their society. Which means that the bonobos use sex to bond, to show affection, respect or submission, to make up, to barter for food or occasionally even for procreation. In addition, bonobos have constantly both heterosexual and homosexual sex and don’t form human style nuclear families.

Another question prof. Kets de Vries touched today was the impact of the pandemic on the society and on the individual. At the macro level, one could always notice that in crisis there is a societal regression. This means that people might have a feeling of helplessness and dependency or paranoid reactions, they start to look for messiahs, there is a rise of conspiracy theories and of autocratic or despotic leadership. At the individual level, the social distancing is unnatural and creates a lot of mental health issues, like frustrations related to the need of belonging or paranoid reactions such as lack of trust and violence. 

In time of crisis, even the dysfunctional leaders might have a boost. In this context, prof. Kets de Vries (who’s not only a psychoanalyst, but also an economist) mentioned the clinical paradigm which is useful for leaders with its different dimensions: complexity, care (passion), courage, critical thinking, communication and compassion. And how the lack of all these elements in a dysfunctional leader costs hundreds of thousands of lives. 

This hour spent with Manfred Kets de Vries motivates me to resume reading his book "The Leaders on teh Couch", which I started a few years ago, and also to get some of his other books, such as "The Leadership Mystique" (the title of today's webinar), "The Happiness Equation" and "Sex, Money, Happiness and Death". 

I’m very grateful for the inspiration provided today by the speaker and the excellent moderator, as well as the privilege offered to me by my university.



Wednesday, 27 May 2020

Re-Discovering an old traditional natural drink: SOCATA

Do you have any drink that reminds you of your childhood?
I grew up in Romania and during communism our shops’ shelves were pretty empty. We didn’t have Coca-Cola, thank God for this! But we’ve had a natural drink that anyone could prepare at home and which was delicious: SOCATA. I’ve never paid attention to how it was made but I remember it was our usual summer drink at home. 
Last week, my friend, Constantin, has been my guest at home. It was a beautiful sunny day so we were able to enjoy having lunch on the terrace. He suddenly told me: 
‘The flowers are ready for socata!’ 
‘Errr, socata?’, I asked as I was taken by surprise.
He then pointed to the back of my garden and I saw it: I’ve had plenty of flowers in the tree called ‘soc’ in Romanian, in English elder shrub or elderberry (while the scientific name is Sambucus nigra), which are used for my childhood’s favorite drink. 

After my friend left, I was still looking at the elder flowers,  trying to remember how the drink should be prepared. To be on the safe side, I looked on the internet and found a lot of quite similar recipes, all of them recommending as ingredients:
10-14 elder flowers
8-10 L water
sugar or honey (the quantity should be adapted to your taste: between 1-1,5 kg of sugar and 300-500 g of honey)
2-3 lemons. 
Other  recipes suggested the use of either yeast or rice grains to intensify the fermentation, while others mentioned additional spices such as saffran and ginger, mint or basil leaves, to give it a more special taste. 

So, I’ve decided to launch Operation: Socata!
Bellow you can discover the different phases I’m going through and my guests invited this Friday will get to taste this amazing traditional natural Romanian drink.
FYI, the elder flowers are highly appreciated in the traditional Romanian medicine. They are thought to have immunostimulant, detoxifying, anti-infectious properties and also great for respiratory and urinary disorders. 

I encourage you to try to prepare it as well, it’s super easy and could be of great help especially now during the Covid-19 time to stimulate and reinforce your immune system.  

The fermentation started already after a few hours

After you mixed the flowers, water, lemons and sugar or honey, we need to cover the recipient but while allowing it to breath and let it ferment for 2-4 days, depending on how acid you wish it to be.

After 2 days

Wonderful color after 4 days 

We can taste it every day and stop the fermentation when we’re happy with the taste. 
At that moment we filter the drink and transfer it to smaller bottles that we place in the fridge. We serve it cold with some mint within the next couple of days. If kept longer, a second fermentation shall start so we need to pay more attention when we open the bottles. Enjoy! 

Did you know ‘socata’? Did you ever prepare it yourself? 
Feel free to share in comments your pictures and tips. 



Wednesday, 8 April 2020

How happy are you?

Last week I started two online courses, one of which entitled "The science of well-being". Did you notice that in our very business oriented country, people tend to think that (all) our lifelong learning choices should be about our profession? When I told my best friend about following the most popular course at Yale University, I really liked her answer: "The more we understand about our life from now on, the easier we will live our years when older."
Her comment resonated very much with me, because indeed this course is about reflecting and learning more about what makes you happy and what could make the people close to you happier.

So today I would like to ask you how happy you consider yourself. Let aside the fact that it might be  a bit more challenging to think about happines with the high amount of uncertainty that we all currently have in our lives during the confinement. Close your eyes, think of a moment in time right before the Coronavirus crisis and answer (to yourself) the question.

What key words or images do you associate with happines in your life?
It is different for each one of us so there is no right or wrong answer.
On a scale of 1-5, how happy would you say you are?
If this exercise seems too difficult, I am happy to help you with two scientific measurement tools that I also used last week when starting my course.
1. PERMA survey - the name is an acronym for Positive emotions, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning, and Accomplishment, the first five dimensions which are being measured by this validated psychological instrument.
2. The authentic happiness inventory that will help you measure your overall well-being on a scale of 1-5.
What would be interesting would be to take again these surveys at the end of the confinement and compare the results. They will very likely look different that your results today.

I hope you enjoy this exercise, feel free to post your feedback.

#stayathome #measureyourhappiness #youarenotalone


Tuesday, 2 July 2019

If you were disappointed in love, practice Luxembourgish —> ‘t ass eriwwer

We all had our disappointments in love, some were more hurtful than others. But we need to eventually put ourselves together and accept that an amazing person (if you are still in love) has chosen a different path than yours, has chosen to no longer share beautiful moments and create memories with you. Yes, it’s over = ‘t ass eriwwer!
If you’re trying to improve your Luxembourgish, I found just the right practice exercise for you, motivational message included!

‘t ass eriwwer

Wat soll ech maachen
‘t ass eriwwer
hien ass gaangen
wat hunn ech falsch gemaach?
ech vergiessen
jo, dat vergeet
ech wollt net versoen
‘t ass schwéier ze verstoen
‘t ass d’Léift, déi mir feelt
ech verlaangeren, mä dat vergeet
ganz eleng
ech kann et spieren
jo, et war eng schéin Zäit
ech weess, ech muss mäi Liewe liewen
‘t ass just u mir, un deem et läit.

Mir ware verschidden
d’Erwaardung ni zefridden
no Gefiller ni gefrot
vergiess mech
huet hie gesot
ganz eleng
ech kann et spieren
jo, et war eng schéin Zäit
ech weess, ech muss mäi Liewe liewen
‘t ass just u mir, un deem et läit.

I invite you to listen to this poem in a song, first without looking at the lyrics in order to work on your oral comprehension, then with the lyrics. Did you find any difference?
‘t ass eriwwer
Moof Fonkelnei - September 1994

I hope you enjoyed this practice exercise in Luxembourgish. Feel free to leave a comment.
Enjoy your day!
Ganz schéinen Dag!

Monday, 10 June 2019

Practice Luxembourgish with “D’Tilly” by Tom Decker

Love, unconditional love, destiny, rituals, we find them all in the beautiful book “D’Tilly” written by Tom Decker. Or do I see love everywhere because my heart is so full of it, yet deprived of the presence of the loved one, just like in the book?

Some people may choose not to see each other anymore because they strongly believe they are not good in a relationship and they’d be better off if they lived alone, if they did anything they feel like whenever they feel like. Some other people like Gast and Tilly, our book’s main characters, were separated by war. But true love never ends!
“Wann et reent, da gesäit keen deng Tréinen” can one read in the book: so beautiful and so true! Also when one wears sunglasses...!

“Et gëtt ëmmer gesot, d’Zäit géing all Wonnen heelen, ma bei mir war et net d’Zäit, déi se geheelt huet, mä d’Oflenkung. Obwuel ech mir an deenen nächste Joren a Jorenzéngten e flott Liewen opgebaut an nei Kollege kennegeléiert hunn an och e Beruf hat, dee mir Spaass gemaach huet, ass et mer ni méi gelongen, eng längerfristeg Relatioun mat enger Fra anzegoen. An ech kann der soen, an all deene Joren hunn ech der vill kennegeléiert! Ma et war keent ewéi d’Tilly.”

When we love, we create our own reality. We see what we want to see, we believe what we want to believe. We’re fragile, we’re irrational, we’re emotional.
I imagine Gast and Tilly sitting on the bench in one of my favorite spots in Luxembourg-city and, later on, the first meeting between Max and Laura, sharing the beauty of nature, giving each other the most beautiful gifts of all. Because love is what keeps us alive!
“An dat ass, Max, de Grond, firwat mir eis all Sonndeg ëm déiselwecht Auerzäit an deemselwechte Gaart treffen. Dat hält eis Léift an domat och eis selwer um Liewen...”

I warmly recommend you to read it if you study Luxembourgish and have a minimum A2 level. 
No stress if you might not understand all the vocabulary, www.lod.lu will be very helpful. 

D’Tilly, by Tom Decker, Kremart Editions, 2,99 eur

Enjoy practicing Luxembourgish!

Lëtzebuergesch / Luxembourg 
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