Entrepreneur. Educator. Influencer.

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. 


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