Apr 25, 2021 | E049 How to Navigate Like a Pro and Establish the World’s First Nanoformulation Consulting Company
Dr. Eniko Manek is the Founder of Teuton Tech, the world’s first Nanoformulation Consulting company. Eniko also acts as Head of Research at a pharmaceutical start-up; as well as scientific advisor at different nanotechnology, biotechnology, IP law and innovation management firms. Currently, Eniko is affiliated with the College of Medicine and Health Sciences, Khalifa University in the United Arab Emirates, while previously she collaborated with the Florida International University in the US.
Eniko holds a PhD in chemistry, an MSc degree in materials science, and a BSc degree in environmental science, and she also has education in executive management, thermal analysis, quality assurance and life cycle assessment. In her early career, Eniko worked at the Budapest University of Technology and Economics as a research associate and as a lecturer in physical chemistry.
Subsequently, she transitioned to industry and gained experience in various executive-level positions – such as Board Member, Deputy & Interim CEO, Chief Technology Officer, Head of Nanotechnology Department and Head of Formulation Laboratory – at various enterprises in the US and in the EU that focus on the development and commercialization of nanoformulated pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals and cosmetics. During this time, Eniko also served as board member of the American Chemical Society, Hungary Chapter.
In 2018, Eniko turned her dream into reality and created Teuton Tech, the first and only Nanoformulation Consulting enterprise in the world. At Teuton Tech, Eniko and her team help companies to develop their own nanoformulated products and thus drastically enhance the bioavailability, efficacy, stability and safety of their active ingredients. At present, Eniko’s commercial projects cover the fields of pharmaceuticals, nutritional supplements, cosmetics and agrochemicals; while in her academic studies she concentrates on nano-therapeutics for the treatment of brain diseases.
Eniko’s LinkedIn profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/enikomanek/
The episode was recorded on April 24th, 2021. This material represents the speaker’s personal views and not the views of their current or former employer(s).
Natalia 00:10 Hello, everyone. This is yet another episode of career talks by Welcome Solutions. And in these meetings, we talk with professionals who have fascinating career paths and who are willing to share their life hacks with us. Today, I have the great pleasure to introduce Dr. Eniko Manek to you. Eniko holds a PhD in chemistry and a master’s degree in material science and then a bachelor’s degree in environmental science.
She also has education in executive management, thermal analysis, quality assurance, and lifecycle assessment. Currently, she’s the founder of Teuton Tech, the world’s first nanoformulation consulting company. And she also acts as Head of Research at the pharmaceutical startup, as well as the Scientific Advisor of different nanotechnology, biotechnology, IP law, and innovation management firms. Currently, Eniko is affiliated with the College of Medicine and Health Sciences, Khalifa University in the United Arab Emirates.
She previously collaborated with the Florida International University in the US. Great to have you, Eniko. Thank you so much for joining us today. I’m very glad to see you. I’m curious how it all looks from behind the scenes as I know that such seemingly perfect, seamless LinkedIn profiles sometimes hide very interesting stories behind and I would like to hear more about your career decisions and how your career path looked from behind the scenes from your own perspective.
Dr. Eniko 01:50 Thank you for having me. You’re right. It wasn’t that seamless. And it has a lot of twists and turns. I almost became a zoologist because I like to read a book about particular and about animals. When I was a teenager, I grew up on his books. And I love animals. I want to become a zoologist. But my teachers and parents talked me into this idea and told me that at least I should become a biologist.
I applied to university and got accepted. And I didn’t like it. After half a semester, I got sick. I was lucky because I had to skip one semester. And during that semester, instead of immediately going back, I decided that I take my time, and think of what I really would like to do because I wasn’t comfortable with that training.
I knew I didn’t have a future there. I studied German. I started to get into yoga. And I was lucky enough that the next year, this new bachelor’s Master’s System came out. I saw it as an opportunity to acquire new and very different skills. I was thinking that I would take a very broad spectrum, Bachelor training.
That was environmental science. And I was sure I wanted to stay in science. But you know, based on my previous experience at the university, I wasn’t sure what subjects I liked the most. I went for the training. And I had a lot of various types of subjects from chemistry, physics, math, geology, and even Zoology, and eventually biology. I liked inorganic chemistry.
I liked physics which was surprising for me because I did not like physics in secondary school or the teacher was not the most enthusiastic one. But it turned out that I liked physics. I was good at physics. When I finished my bachelor’s, I was thinking that what kind of areas I like in natural sciences. And I wanted to combine physics and chemistry.
I did not want to become just a chemist because I felt it was somewhat restricting. Again, I wanted to keep my options open. I decided to become a material scientist. It was new at that time. We were the very first grade who started so it was only another guy and me. The training was challenging because no one knew what we were about to do.
The teachers were kinda lost in some things. There was not a definite structure for the training. It was challenging. And it was also challenging because it was just the two of us. We did not get our own teachers or courses. It was rather that, for instance, I had to take the course together with physics PhDs, which was shocking, obviously because I was lacking a lot of knowledge for that.
But I pushed through and I also made use of the opportunity that I could compile a lot of subjects myself. We had some free credits. And at the time, I read things about nanotechnology. And I thought, Oh, it’s great. It’s cool. I thought it has a great future. It was relatively new at that time.
I decided to become a nanotechnologist. There was no training for that at that time in Hungary at least. I decided that okay, what I can do is to compile the subjects, so I pick up as much as I can to become a nanotechnologist. For instance, I took microtechnology now, technology, all kinds of solid-state physics and analytical methods, carbon nanotubes, and whatever was available at the time, and I also read a lot myself.
When I finished, I did my thesis work. That was my very first paper scientific paper that came out of my thesis. This book was already in the production of ceramic nanoparticles. I was lucky in that sense if I could go for a topic like that as my first real research topic, I would say. And when I finished, I got offers from the chemistry and the physics department to stay as a PhD student. However, I decided to instead go to another university to do my PhD studies.
It was again a bit difficult because universities generally prefer that all students are going to enroll in their own PhD programs because they already know them. They already have a professor. I just walked in the door at the other university to a professor and I told him, I would like to do my PhD here. And he told me like, that’s very unusual because I can honestly tell you that we prefer our own students. I don’t know how it would go for us. We can look at your points.
We have a different system that favors our students. He supported me and I was like, Okay, let’s try. And eventually, I got in. And I could start to work on a topic that was mainly drug delivery systems because we had some grants. I could incorporate some studies on composite systems with nanoparticles. And I also had a lot of chances to travel to France, Japan, and Russia.
I also started to learn Japanese as a hobby. But I don’t want to stay at university. I was very honest about this with my supervisor from the very first time because she was looking for someone who can take over to grow with time. She was about to retire. When I told her that that’s not me. I like to work here. But I always wanted to go into the industry. When I was at the end of my PhD studies, I got an offer from the industry.
They were looking for nanotechnologists. I was lucky in that sense. I got an offer. But partially the offer was an offer because there were not so many nanotechnologies in the country. They knew that I was working on the design of topics. And also it required a lot of courage because immediately they gave me an app, which sounds awesome. But when you just finished your PhD, you have no idea. It’s a lot of responsibility.
And I also joined a project that had nothing at the time. They told me at the interview that we want you to be in the technology department. We have no equipment, no technology ideas, and no personnel for that. I had to do everything. I got a lab that was cluttered with rubbish. I have to clean this out and set up everything. I had to think about everything but I liked it. It was a great challenge. They told me that we have no idea. Would you like to do this anyway? From that point, everything went fast.
My team was growing. I had my lab. I built up the nanotech department and I also started to get these more executive-level positions at various companies, both in Hungary and in the US. I was participating in companies of formulation in the US. I had a lot on my plate. But I also knew the reason why I was willing to take on this many things was that I knew that I’m wanting to have my own company. It was a lot of work. It was exhausting. I’m not saying it’s easy to do. I had miserable days, honestly.
But I had this end goal and it kept me going, eventually. And because I had my own goal, I made very conscious decisions. I was very conscious about networking. Whenever I went to a conference, I traveled a lot or visited companies, I had the luck to visit big chemistry companies. I even have a project with NASA. I made sure I built really good connections with those people. And everyone kept track of them.
I had this Excel sheet of paper, where do they work? What’s the email address and name that is in need? What kind of projects do they work on as a resource later? Because I was thinking that it would have been a lot belong to my own company. I was doing this for three years. And at the end of the three years, I was offered to become the CEO. One of these companies was a chemistry innovation company.
And I told no, I did not want to be the CEO. And it was rather a wake-up call. It gave me the momentum and I left all of these positions. I launched my own company. And this is where my journey started. My company was launched in August 2018. And at this point, I can’t complain. I have exciting projects. I’m more in the flow now. It’s working. I think it’s over that initial stage of setting up a company and I’m very happy with what I have.
Natalia 12:27 It’s a great story. Thank you so much for sharing. I’m interested in business development. We start asking questions from the very end because I’m curious. As you might know, almost every company goes through the spirit of dip, Seth Godin described it well in his book, The dip. It’s the period of time in which you already invested a lot of resources, time, money, and effort into building a business but you don’t have enough traction yet to be afloat.
And the whole art is about how to recognize when you should, where you should put the stop loss, and when to decide that you should get out and start a new venture, or perhaps you should continue and get through this deep and it will go uphill from that point.
My question for you would be, how did you recognize and when was this point when you were at the lowest point. What made you think that you would go through the dip and that you would eventually become successful? And especially given that a year ago, we had the breakout of Corona, have you also had doubts related to that? Because that’s not both variables time for starting businesses as well. But in principle, what made you believe that you should continue rather than just move on to the next project?
Dr. Eniko 14:07 It’s an interesting question. I would say that there is no such a thing as one a deep, it’s always ups and downs. At least it was for me and I think it’s the case for most people who launch companies. I had ups and downs every day. One day was good. The other day was terrible. I had no confidence. I think that instead of thinking about going through one continuum, like one difficult stage, it’s like you have to go through days or get through days that you feel low.
And again, I cannot give you a formula for when you should stop and keep going. It depends a lot on the type of your pay. I was pretty sure I didn’t want to start with a product or anything that requires a lot of capital. I wanted to have a consulting business but now I’m in the process of launching other businesses. Now, I have a basis for that.
I think that if you have the capital and you have a team, but if you’re on your own, and you think about launching a product, do it as small as you can, or try to take on other projects. For instance, if you’re good at, let’s say, cosmetics development, you went to a cosmetic company, then maybe you should try to find projects where you can participate as a consultant.
There’s some traction from there, maybe getting some more people to get some capital, and then you can think about launching your product. My business model was extremely safe. It wasn’t really a business model. It’s in that sense, the only risk factor was my living because aside from my time and mental capacities, I did not have to put anything into the business.
There were some administrative costs relating to maintaining a business but aside from that it was only me, I had to make sure I maintained myself without relying on anyone. And for that, what I did was when I was employed, I consciously accumulated some savings, so I could take the sleep. On the other hand, of course, when some very successful business person launched their business, and they were living on, I don’t know, bread and water for years, these kinds of things. But on the other hand, you know, you can cut back your expenses, When you’re not sure you don’t want to create, you can kind of maintain yourself in a consulting business.
And this is how I survived. I cannot answer the question like, why did not I give up? I do not give up. I think that maybe, on one hand, it was the support from others. No one ever questions what I was doing. Instead, you know, I was always encouraged. There were always some small things going on. Instead of having this very extreme way of thinking, saying, Oh, I’m either failing, or I do everything the way I want, my business is super successful, and I make a lot of money. And there’s like a lot of stages in between. And I think that if you want to, you can always find something. For instance, I was lucky enough to start my business by having a roughly half-year consulting contract but it wasn’t a great revenue. From that point, I’m really on my own.
I wasn’t rigid with my approach. For instance, I took on writing or translating projects. There are so many things you can think about. It’s rather like you shouldn’t confine yourself. You have to have an idea where I do want to go. But I think it’s a bad idea to set the road in advance. It’s like, I know that in a few years, I would like to be here, I would like to have this type of business. But it doesn’t mean that during those years, I’m just going to work on super exciting nanotech development projects. It might be that I’m going to do translation or anything, but I considered every project as an opportunity because especially in consulting, connections are everything.
I would suggest that you don’t think that talking to people is a waste of time. I’m saying this because I was that type of person. During the beginning of my PhD, I was the type of person who don’t like people talking too much. It doesn’t make sense to listen to them. But of course, gradually I learned that connections are really valuable. I’m still surprised by how valuable they are. Because I’d rather get my projects by referral. I know someone who knows someone who is looking for someone like me, and this is how I acquire most of my projects.
Natalia 19:59 Referring to what you’ve said before, I feel for you. I also have these days when I feel like I’m wasting my life. And I have these days of greatness when I feel like it’s going cool. And I made the best choice I could ever make. Sometimes, I feel like God was playing a game with me. And every time I’m at the lowest law or something little happens and every time I think of quitting, something little happens that keeps me going. Like just, you know, one more book sells, one more person writes to me with very kind words about what I’m doing. And you know, as something little happens, I stop complaining and just keep on going.
And every single time I have that crisis, something happens that puts me back on the right track. I feel for you. I also have those ups and downs. But I think it’s quite common indeed. It’s like you have to live day by day. Referring to what you’ve said about using heuristics, I agree. I think that, like from what I see, talking to people who navigate themselves very well, in the job market, this is quite a common approach.
Instead of setting one very specific goal, let’s say I will become a CEO of Samsung in 10 years, like that very specific, precise goal, they tend to think more about what type of topic they would like to work on and what type of problem they would like to solve, or what type of lifestyle they would like to live and slowly navigate towards that goal.
But the goal is not as precise. And it’s also not defined step by step. That’s very common. I have to say that it’s not always possible. There are also types of careers where you have to go through certain steps. Like in sports, you have to get to a certain point, you have to make certain accomplishments.
And it’s like a very well-defined career path where you have those championships at different levels. You have to go through a very particular career track and with very particular milestones and you have to go one or the other time through a series of milestones but in the vast majority of professions and careers, it’s not necessary.
And I agree with you that this self-navigation based on heuristics is much more efficient. And I think that’s also one problem with an academic lifestyle that we have a very well-defined goal of becoming a professor and a tenure researcher and the vast majority of PhDs starts their PhD program thinking even not consciously but subconsciously that one day they will be a professor. And I think that makes it very toxic. That’s also why I like what you said that when you were embarking on the PhD program, you already had a plan to go forwards towards the industry.
You never treated a PhD program as a gateway to an academic career, but you already had a plan as to what to do next. And from what I understood, you always had this thinking that you were planning a few steps. After you entered the industry, you also already thought about becoming independent. You always thought about your future a few steps ahead. I liked that.
Can I ask you this question, like, do you feel that in the last three years ever since you have your own business, did you change as a person? Are there things that you are now capable of doing that you would never think you would ever do before you start a business?
Dr. Eniko 24:20 I’m not any different. Even before when I went through all these positions in the industry, I was always kind of doubtful, like, am I really suited for that to make make it happen? Am I suitable for those really high-level positions? But I have to say, business is on another level. It’s more like a game of confidence because there are a lot of things I have to solve. I rely on myself for most things. Especially even when it comes to administrative big things or the operational part like running the business, I had to learn a lot about even law, legislation, accounting, and taxation.
I have to push my boundaries all the time because I am still not a big business. I have other consultants but they are scientific consultants. They participate in a project from a scientific point of view. They’re not going to do my website, for instance. I still have those days when I’m like, oh, it’s impossible. I just cannot do this. A lot of people are designing a website but I can’t. Then I sit down. It’s not that bad. It’s continuous. I think I’m still at the very beginning of the road. I did a lot. I changed a lot too.
And I think that these few years, the last few years, even though they were the hardest, in some sense, are the best years so far for me, in one sense because I’ve reached my freedom. And on the other hand, because I think that it was real-time and I matured which sounds weird after having all those positions at this age but I’m more like a mature person who knows herself and her capabilities.
Natalia 26:44 And I think, when you enter a business, you have to learn that your actions have real consequences. And that’s something that you don’t learn as a PhD student because eventually what you produce is some theoretical work that gets published. But it’s not that you have quantitative feedback from the rest of the universe which you have as a business owner.
If you produce something that you believe has value for others but they don’t want to pay for your service, it hits you hard very quickly. It’s a very fast verification of whether or not you’re a good value producer or not.
This is something that, you know, in the academic system, sometimes you will never know, some academics all through their whole careers, producing publications that they never know if these publications will lead to any real improvements in the society that anyone would ever pay for.
I think this keeps you down to earth. And I also have to become much more practical ever since I started a business and now before I ever decide to do something, I always think about what is the purpose of this is. Does it help me to grow my company? Does it help me to build my personal life? Does it help me to relax?
If it’s none of these three, then it’s junk. It’s not a well-spent time, so I should eliminate it. I started eliminating projects and tasks in a much more shrewd way than before. That’s true. I also agree that you have to put yourself out of your comfort zone much more than as an employee. There’s also something I couldn’t predict when I was starting.
I wouldn’t even guess that I would ever have a YouTube channel or if I would ever even write a book although I liked writing. I didn’t think that I would ever have got to put my work out there for people to buy. Maybe I would have enough guts to put it out there for free as a free ebook or something, but not as a product.
Now, I have a business and I have to take care of the books. And the product must be there. I have to put a price tag on what I do. And I have to care about the reviews. I have to care about the quality and the reception but it’s fine. I already got used to it and I got to like this game. And this is something that I barely recognize myself from two years ago.
Two years ago, I didn’t even formally have a company. I started in July of 2019 but I see what you mean. I have to say that I also very much like your strategy to use an Excel sheet and list all your contacts with potential topics that they might help you with. This is clever. I don’t do this myself. But that’s also what I do.
When I have a problem, I always think, okay, what are the top five people who might help me with this but I think it’s clever what you do because then you don’t have to spend time thinking. You just look into your Excel sheet. And it saves a lot of time, probably. I think it’s really wise of you. And maybe I should do it as well. I might consider doing this because it’s so efficient and you will not forget anyone because they didn’t come up to your mind when they should have. That’s clever.
Dr. Eniko 31:05 I also extended this approach. I wouldn’t say I like excel sheets. But then I just realized I have a lot of excel sheets. I did a lot of market research in this particular area. There are no other non-financial consulting companies. But other companies offer services related to nanoformulation. I went through all those companies.
I looked at them and figured out what state they could be in. I think that most of them are this fundraising. Some are already working. But that was also a very educational thing. Then I realized that in all of these companies, nanoformulation, especially nanoformulation of drugs is a new topic.
Research papers came out in the last 10 years. But on an industrial scale, it’s starting to do this in the last few years. And a lot of those companies just offer one technique. They had an idea for one specific nanoformulation technique with one specific carrier, let’s say they recycled liposomes. But then they want to build everything around it. They kind of provide a given technology, no matter what your compound is.
And I think that it’s good because they have some projects but only for certain compounds. I was thinking that it was very educational to figure out. If I offer that I help you to develop your particles, but they will be all tailor-made. And I’m not saying that, Oh, you have to use this technology.
Otherwise, I give options to my clients. And I think they like it. Whatever company you want to launch, you have to look around. I’m not fond of this form of a business plan. I know, it’s very fashionable nowadays to say that, Oh, you have to have your business plan and do your research. I think you have to research yourself. Like, pick segments of a business plan that you could use yourself, again, not waste your time on other things because you’re not going to present it to investors at the very beginning.
It’s more like for yourself. Referring back to this networking and keeping track of connections, I was also very conscious to build out my LinkedIn network. That’s also helpful because a lot of people find me on LinkedIn nowadays. And I even had the habits for a while of taking note of those people who check me out on LinkedIn, what company they worked at, what was their area, their profession to seem like, you know, to kind of have an idea of my exposure, like who might be interested in my services.
But I would recommend it to anyone. I’m not a social media person, so I don’t post. But I think that building connections is valuable even on LinkedIn. When you’re a PhD student, you can start it. And yes, maybe it’s you won’t accept your connection request. But you’re going to have more and more connections.
And then after a while, there is this point when people are connecting to you so you don’t actively connect to anyone anymore but rather people find you so it’s a game that you have to play for several games. If you have a goal at the end as you started at the very beginning of your PhD studies, you can search for industry and try to connect to people who are not so much higher up on the career ladder than you are but they’re a bit mid-managers, for instance. I think it’s a good tactic to gain some exposure.
Natalia 35:14 It’s also that LinkedIn is good for businesses. When your content is posted, when you post something, then your contacts have a chance to see it. Whereas on some other media, like Twitter, it immediately disappears. That’s also a mistake I made. I think, if I spent as much time on LinkedIn as I spent on Twitter, in the last two years, I will be much better in terms of my network. I think LinkedIn takes over as well. I can see that shift also from Twitter to LinkedIn when people finally realize that the content that you post disappears after two minutes.
It’s not the best way of spending their time. And indeed, more people are contacting you on LinkedIn than they are on some other mediums. That’s true. Now, I like to ask you something about how you perceive yourself because I know that you were offered the position of a CEO once but you turn it down to launch your own business but at the same time, you also chose a business model that doesn’t require investment, it just can be bootstrapped. Do you perceive yourself as a risk-taker?
Dr. Eniko 36:46 Yes, a lot.
Natalia 36:48 I was just curious because I think everyone who starts a company is a bit insane. Because eventually, being an employee is so much safer. This is what we’re naturally tuned to choose.
Dr. Eniko 37:13 I think that people are conditioned to do. I think it’s just a mindset difference. I always support anyone who would like to be independent, even as a freelancer or small consulting business, or whatever type of business. Because most people are not happy with their day jobs. They don’t like it.
They tend to treat it poorly. They don’t have time for anything else. I think people would like to shift towards having their own business. Of course, it’s comfortable for a lot of people because it’s not your responsibility or you’re going to get your salary, even though you know that the projects aren’t going so well.
There are benefits but I think that in our generation, there are more and more people who would like to launch their own businesses because they don’t know what it takes to become a CEO. It’s a thing that people think, oh, it’s great. That’s the end goal. When you’re successful and you’re happy, then everything is great. But it’s not the case at all. I think that we just put too much emphasis on titles and roles. And until you try, you don’t know whether you like that or not.
Natalia 38:50 My personal belief is that people are different and they just have different ways of producing value for others. Some people have a natural preference to be independent and some people want to feel the safety that their working environment is arranged for them and they just feel happier when they are employees. People are just born this way. It’s kind of an orientation toward the job the same as you can talk about orientation towards another gender. It’s something you’re born with.
I know people who must be free because they were born this way. And they will never be happy before they finally succeed to be independent. I know people who are 100% happiest employees and they would never choose to be independent. They are perfectly happy where they are. There’s a spectrum.
And it’s good that there’s a spectrum because society couldn’t also work if everyone had the company. I think It’s perfectly fine that people have these different orientations. We are just on the far end of people who really should be free even if it takes a high price to pay.
That’s my point of view. One thing I would also like to mention is I like the fact that you took this gap year or half a year. And I think that’s also something that I often see in people who are very good navigators that at some point in their lives, they took time just for themselves for self-exploration.
And in your case, it was early in your career, the beginnings of your studies, but I can see that commonality at some point in time, whether it was in their 20s 30s, or even later, most people who are now in a good place, they took at least a half a year or a year off to think about themselves, to travel or just do projects that they enjoy without putting any pressure on themselves. This is one of the ingredients for the recipe for success that everyone should do at some point in their life.
Dr. Eniko 41:27 I agree. That wasn’t the only sabbatical that I took even when I launched my business, and for a while when I had a project. But you know, it was not like super intense. I had a lot of time to complete all my stuff. It’s that you are actively angry and consciously work on things.
It’s rather giving yourself the time to process or even put smaller things together in your life. Because, when I was working in the industry, I was tired and overworked all the time. I didn’t have time for anything. I went to bed around one o’clock. I woke up at six but even then I was just exhausted.
You cannot maintain that for such a long time. After that, I didn’t feel guilty. That’s another thing where I became much more mature that I don’t feel guilty to take time off and I still do it. Sometimes, if you have your own business, especially when you are a consultant, it’s very variable. Sometimes, you have deadlines and you’re working day and night, on weekends, all the time.
But then you should permit yourself that okay, then I take the next week off. And it’s good because you can do that. But then you have to do it too. You have to be your own boss and you have to permit yourself. That’s tricky.
When you have your own business, there is always room to work. You can always work on something. You have to be a good boss of yourself in the sense that you have to motivate and push yourself. But you also have to be the good boss in that sense that you have to say okay, now you’re stuck because you take care of yourself. But I think that these breaks are super important because our brain is not wired to take in so much information that we are bombarded every day.
That’s not our natural state. We always consumed something. And I only learned when I had those positions that I got my good ideas or technological solutions when I was taking a sharp or something like that. You have to switch your brain off and it’s not like nothing happens actively.
But then somehow things just stack and you process things and everything clears up and even when I have a consulting project and I just do it and then I feel stuck that, okay, let’s go for a walk. And I go back and it seems so easy. I finished something new in five minutes. You need these breaks.
Natalia 44:32 You have to also find an activity that re-energizes you. For me, I used to go to the spa but recently it’s closed for obvious reasons but I hope it will be reopened soon. That was my like safety button every time. I felt okay, this is too much for me. I’m exhausted. I’m taking my bath clothes and the towel and going to the spa for like four, five, or six hours. That’s also where one of my projects started because I was talking to people in the restaurant of the spa where everyone was sitting in their bath clothes. When you speak to people at the business meetup, everyone is dressed.
You just make judgments on people based on how they look. And you can tell what they do for a living sometimes from the way they are dressed and the way they behave. But when people are sitting in a restaurant in a spa, everyone is dressed in the same, you know, dark blue.
When you start speaking to them, you have no idea who they are. And, and at some point, I realized that, while just chatting with these people, I can guess quite well, where they work, just based on how they speak about life. If you ask someone, why shouldn’t you steal from other people? If they answer that it’s a sin, or it’s evil, it’s a bad thing to do, or that it’s illegal, then usually, that means they work in a public institution or big company.
If they say that it’s about karma, they’re usually entrepreneurs. You can guess and it was such an interesting discovery that I started thinking about how to hack it. How to come up with a test that can indicate where you fit best in the job market, given how you think about life and work?
And that’s what I’m doing right now. I’m quite close to the publication of this test now. That was also funny because I was going to the spa to recharge but in the end, I came up with the idea for my best project there. I think it’s important to have such a safety button and something that you like doing in your free time.
If you feel like you need a while for yourself, then go for it. I agree that it’s so hard because every time, it’s so hard to do it without a sense of guilt if you have your own company. I get it. But you know, it’s also sometimes good to also choose an activity that is not only recharging you but also good for your health, like spas are good for your cardiovascular system.
It’s a bit like exercising as well. I can tell myself that it’s also good for the business because I will be fitter. It’s well-spent time and investment in the business as well, not just time off. I don’t how about you but I think it’s good.
Dr. Eniko 48:11 It’s always a good idea to invest in yourself. I think sports, for instance, are super important. When I was so overwhelmed, I would start my workouts at 10 pm or 11 pm. Because I needed that and it helps so much. It helps you to clear your thoughts and you function better. When I overload myself, I just don’t perform so well anyway. It’s better to have a clear mind and a healthy body. I think that always helps me. And it also gives you confidence. I think that hobbies are important. Social relationships are very important. Your time for yourself is important.
If something you like to do for yourself, if it’s skincare or running or baking, whatever gives you a sense of accomplishment, that would help your business because it changes your entire attitude. And I think it’s especially when you have your own business. When you’re tense and you want something to happen, then your vibe is different and you can come off as desperate. If you’re very confident and calm and have several things going on, people just gravitate towards you. I don’t know it’s a bit difficult to put but this is what I feel in general.
If we refer back to what we talked about at the beginning of this interview that when you have those doubts and when your business is not going too well, it’s easy to feel that you’re a failure. But if you have a lot of other things in your life, you can take it more easily and it helps you to carry on. Whatever hobby you have or whatever relationships or you do charity, or volunteering, or, for instance, my hobby always has been acrobatics, or aerial gymnastics, and these kinds of things, that’s another layer of life.
And I even use it during my PhD, when I was really tired and my supervisor was pushing me over every limit. And, you know, I had to go home, and I knew that I have to wake up at five in the morning but I still have to finish with this device because she didn’t like them. And so I was like, I just go to the studio and I’m going to hang upside down from something for a while. And it helps a lot.
I think it’s so important to do whatever gives you confidence because you’re not your business, it’s just a portion of your life. It’s really easy to identify yourself with your position at the company or with your business. But it’s important that you have other things going on and focus on them and you gain a lot of energy and confidence from those other activities. You can meet someone in the spa, or you meet somewhere in the chain. You can meet people accidentally in every situation.
Natalia 51:36 I think it’s again all about the karmic energy that is very important in business and I agree with you that we often attract opportunities when we are in this good spirits and a good vibe. If you go to a business meet-up in a good mood and feel energetic, there are such chances that you will meet with new opportunities.
If you go exhausted, it never happens. And I get it. I mean, that’s also in some ways a problem because, in startup culture, there is this culture of success that you have to also appear to be so even at your deepest low, you still have to appear energetic, successful, and happy.
It’s like double pressure. Because in academia, at least now there is an acceptance for being imperfect and having mental health problems and people openly say it and it’s totally fine to say in public that you’re going through a dark period but in business, it’s not accepted. You will not get customers or business partners if you’re a depressed person.
Dr. Eniko 53:08 I think that I understand what you’re talking about. There’s a toxic culture, especially when it comes to this startup or when it comes to young entrepreneurs in certain areas. I know what you mean. Let’s say I’ve been to some of those meetings, and everyone was super successful. I think that’s for more mature people with fellow business owners. I generally work with people who are older than me, like in their 40s or even 50s. I think that they already have a different attitude.
What I learned was that being human-like humble and honest helps you a lot because that type of attitude can impress someone for a few seconds but it’s superficial and it’s going to wear off very fast. And you can impress someone very quickly but it’s not going to retain your clients. They look for someone who is more genius, who is like an honest person who can show so-called vulnerability. I’m not going to cry on a conference call. But if I say that sorry, this day is hard, please talk tomorrow, I cannot answer all your questions.
I admit that this is the line when it’s not my expertise anymore. I would suggest that I refer you to another expert who I trust. And people generally value this kind of gesture. So I think that if you go with the flow you look at social media, you go to these gatherings, you would get the impression that you have to have this one successful from the very beginning. When I think that anyone who is in business for a longer time, can deceive those people. And they will rather value the more honest and open approach.
Natalia 55:31 I fully agree with you that when you work with people older than you, it’s a good idea. And there was some research in this area that showed clearly that the success rate of companies set by older founders is in general higher. There is almost a linear relationship between the two and the average age of a founder of a successful venture-backed company is 45.
With age, there is more wisdom and experience. If I can talk a little bit about how I see this when I work with subcontractors, with people who do the front end, the back end of the text, or graphic design, I choose young and energetic people because I know that they are young, creative, and have a lot of energy. They can do a lot of tasks in a short time. And they are very enthusiastic.
If they liked the project, they could work until like 3 am. That’s what happens. They are super-efficient of that and very enthusiastic and happy about doing it. But I have to set the goals. I kind of work out the project and I give them a bit of work. Then they are perfectly good at it. But when I need business advice or I think about the strategy for a company, I always go to people who are older than me. I totally agree with you that there is value in life experience.
I can see the difference between the two. If you want to have a lot of work done, that is very well-defined work, you have everything on your mind, how it should look and how it should be done step by step, then it’s sometimes good to take someone who is just young and has like plenty of energy. But when it comes to making difficult decisions, then I would always go to someone who is 10 or 20 years older than me.
Dr. Eniko 57:54 Exactly. And I think that decisions are much better. I’m generally an impatient person. I already learned a lot and developed a lot. It’s nice to see sometimes that when I work with someone who’s just somewhat older than me, they’re more careful when it comes to jumping to conclusions. They think about their decisions.
They get back to you regarding one topic. I definitely see a gap between this new emerging generation of successful entrepreneurs and the older ones. I think that our generation is somewhere in between. We are just in this undefined gray zone. I perceive young people as sometimes awkward.
I heard some university students talking about they were doing some management education during the first year probably and you know, all that confidence they had like, there’s not going to be enough for me, this country is not good enough for me I should be here and there and in two years I’m going to be this and that was like wow, I think that we did not have that much confidence when we were attending university. There’s like a big shift.
Natalia 59:33 I think that’s where they want to be because they see all the success on the media and anyone could be an influencer today who doesn’t produce any particular value. They just talk about themselves and how they are and how they live their lifestyle and they get plenty of followers and money from it. It just creates an impression that anyone can do it. Thank you so much, Eniko, for visiting us today. I’m very glad to meet you.
And thank you for sharing your insights with us. And for anyone who would like to contact Eniko, you have all the important links below, please find links to her company website. And also please connect her through LinkedIn. Thank you so much for watching. We would like to welcome all your comments and questions. And of course, subscribe to this channel if you’d like to see the content. Thank you so much and have a nice day.