Being a CEO can be very stressful in these challenging pandemic times. But with the right organizational skills, motivation, and apps that can help you with remote work, any obstacle can be overcome.
We talked with Elena Dimoska about business, work from home, useful apps, motivation in 2020. She is the co-founder and CEO of the Ignite Global Media, Digital Marketing and Production company.
- How did you start Ignite Global Media? Can you tell us more about what inspired you to become Co-Founder of a Digital Marketing and Production agency?
Ignite Global Media was created by 6 wonderful people well-armed with valuable knowledge and experience in marketing, video production, business development, and leadership found in one place enthusiastically looking for the next big step in their career path. Fascinated by the synergy of this team and its unanimous vision to reshape the way creative solutions are created and delivered cross-border, I knew, without a doubt, that it was the perfect timing to make the headway I was long aspiring to. And, I was right. After one year and a half, I couldn’t be happier to be on this journey along with a team of lovely people willing to empower each other, deliver excellence to our clients and stay strong in uncertain times.
My passion for entrepreneurship, though, was born much earlier, during my high school days, when I was actively involved in various initiatives focused on making a positive change. I knew then that one day I want to have my own business – something of value which will help and inspire many people around the world. Pursuing a career in marketing and communications meant to become part of an industry which is transiting its focus from ‘interrupting’ to ‘providing value’ and, hence, to be part of a change in the business world. The prospect of combining strategic thinking, creativity, and emotional intelligence to craft business stories filled with solidarity, empathy, and unity has never stopped captivating me. To go the extra mile and make a greater impact in the industry, the next move was to co-found a digital marketing and video production agency.
- In your opinion, which skills do you think are the most important for the CEO position?
In my view, a great CEO is a person who is driven by the passion to create something of value which will make a positive change in people’s lives. A successful CEO gives priority to empowering and helping their team, delivering value and excellent customer service, and making a positive impact in the society. They never get lost in their own personal vision and quest for success.
Moreover, to hold the position of CEO one needs to be decisive and not afraid to fail and continue moving. A successful CEO focuses on the solutions while accepting the obstacles as part of the path. Resilience is essential for long-term success.
You have to be more than a professional with an aptitude to continually learn and adapt. You have to be an empathetic leader, someone who listens, recognizes the talents of others, and is able to bring out their best. Then comes the ability to think big and outside the box while precisely executing each step in the long-term strategy.
- What is the most important thing in team-work?
Our recipe for success is putting the team first, spreading love and empathy, and tapping into the benefits of diverse perspectives. When you reach a point where your team feels like a family and you understand that each one of you is equally important to the functioning of the entire team, everything else becomes much easier. To make that happen, employing an inclusive communication strategy where everyone is invited to become part of the decision-making process and different ideas and perspectives are encouraged and embraced is inevitable. Here also comes the willingness to always give a helping hand and be ready to understand and empower instead of judge.
When you share your success with somebody it becomes bigger, when you share your burden with somebody it becomes smaller – that’s why team-work makes the dream work.
- Do Ignite Media Global employees work from an office or from home?
At the moment, we are fully remote (except for our accountant who works in the office for most of the time). It’s been going like this since March although we sometimes gather together at the office to meet in person and feel that team energy we all miss. Working from home isn’t new in our company though – we had been practicing remote working days even before the coronavirus. Two of Ignite Global Media’s co-founders are located outside the country, working remotely from Lisbon and Belgrade for a great deal of time from the very beginning.
- Do you prefer remote work or office, what are the pros and cons of each?
If I have to choose, I would opt for a mix of both. I love face-to-face communication. I am a natural-born communicator and networker and the one thing I miss the most during this pandemic is hanging out with people. There is something personal in the relationship we build at the office space which can’t be replaced online. Working at the office is kind of more fulfilling in terms of having a social life at work. I am also a great supporter of team-building activities and although we practice them online too, nothing can beat the team-buildings in real life.
On the other hand, remote work offers greater flexibility, reduces various costs and time for commuting and with good organisational skills, it boosts productivity. Then, there are a bunch of online tools and platforms which facilitate our remote-working experience and help our efficiency grow. What I personally enjoy the most about working from home (during the pandemic) is getting the chance to work from my hometown, bond with my family, and enjoy the perfect nature it abounds in.
Anyway, what matters most is delivering high-quality. Where you are located and whether you work from home or office should not affect the business and employees should have the right to make a choice.
- How does pandemic affect your work?
The pandemic has affected many of our clients, especially those in the events industry. But, being able to help your clients when times are hard speaks the most about your business. Although I can’t neglect the fact that the coronavirus has affected us, I am happy that I can see more and more industry players working on initiatives to help those who suffered a greater damage. This whole situation reminded us, that after all, it is the solidarity that matters the most.
Moreover, it proved that resilience is crucial for being in business. Every cloud has a silver lining. The pandemic brought to life new businesses in fields such as edtech, healthtech, fintech as well as software solutions for remote work. Along with helping our existing clients, we are now using our experience in digital marketing for startups to help the new players on the market too.
- Do you have work from home routine?
Yes, I do, although I constantly try to revitalize it by making small changes. My day starts at 7 am when I wake up. I don’t jump into work immediately, instead, I spend at least 2 hours for my morning rituals which start with a freshly made juice. Then follows a 4 km hike to a neighbouring village, a shower, and a healthy breakfast. Once I am done with these activities I feel energized enough to start my working day with a cup of coffee on the desk. Thanks to the various online platforms for organisation and management, all my tasks and goals are precisely listed down and prioritized. I schedule most of my meetings in the morning and then go through the tasks throughout the day. Syncing my personal and work calendars helps me enjoy both as a whole.
Furthermore, since the start of the pandemic, I have turned three corners in my house into comfy workspaces (one inside, one on the terrace and one in the garden) and I switch places from time to time to change the scenery. It makes me feel as if I am working from different offices.
- How do you manage to stay focused on work?
First of all, I am a person fond of positive thinking and affirmations. My workstation is surrounded by motivational quotes and pearls of wisdom which constantly remind me why I do what I do. When you love what you do, it’s easier to stay focused because you simply enjoy the work process. In addition, I always create a list of tasks that I need to finish throughout the day, and before I start working on each one I visualise the result it will bring and I become even more motivated to do it. Sometimes, when it gets harder to focus, I use techniques such as ‘the pomodoro technique’.
- In terms of work and tasks organization, which apps are helping you the most when working with different teams and many clients?
We mostly use Google Docs, Trello, Pipedrive, Slack, and Frame.io. But, that’s not all. Being resourceful is very important and we, at Ignite Global Media, love trying new things. The market abounds in new and improved tools, so we are always in a hunt for something better, something which will automate the work even more, on one hand, and give it a human touch, on the other. For example, we recently came across a work management platform which makes use of psychology to increase focus and satisfaction.
- Do you prefer video calls or meeting people in regular meetings?
The boom of Zoom meetings really excites me. More and more business professionals are plunging into video conferencing and are leveraging their LinkedIn networks like never before. It’s very useful for international business. The main reason why I love video calls is that they facilitate liaison with collaborators from around the world. And, I think, oftentimes, video calls are more productive and bring many benefits to businesses and employees.
Face-to-face meetings are always special, but they are certainly not always necessary. The outbreak of the coronavirus shed light on the fact that video calls are as effective as the regular meetings and positioned them as the new normal in the business world.
- What motivates you the most?
First, it’s the people I am surrounded with and all the people in the world who are waiting for something positive to happen to them. Visualizing the smiling faces of the team members, of our clients and partners and thinking of the mere fact that they have chosen me as their partner and colleague and that I can contribute to the team inspires me the most. By the same token, I am always driven to find new and easier ways to solve problems that will make changes in someone’s business and eventually life.
- What do you think is the best way to cope with stress, anxiety, or pressure in these uncertain times?
Tough times bring new opportunities and they help people step out of their comfort zone, redefine themselves, and grow. That’s how we should all perceive things and hence avoid stress and anxiety. In my opinion, it all comes down to perspective. Instead of thinking about the negative, we should be grateful for what we have and direct our focus on standing up and moving forward, stronger than before. We should even be grateful for our failures because they make us who we become later and open doors to new opportunities.
What I personally practice a lot these days is reading books about positive thinking. I also fancy listening to videos that focus on resilience, personal development, and rising trends. Moreover, I use positive affirmations and try to find happiness in the little things such as being able to spend more time with my family and old friends, hike in nature, breathe cleaner air.
- Do you have any advice for young people that want to start their own business?
Don’t be afraid of failure. Instead, focus on all the great things you can create and the change you can make if you start your own business. Don’t forget – good things take time, so, be persistent, be resourceful, and dream big. Lastly, don’t forget to enjoy the ride, put people first, and do all things with love.
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