Drugi jezik na kojem je dostupan ovaj članak: Bosnian
By: Ekrem Dupanović
The first book I read this year was I, Tycoon, by Miroslav Mišković. Vedrana bought it for me last week in Belgrade. I’ve read dozens of books on management so far. I read all the books by Robin Sharma. I haven’t learned a single thing from this mountain of books. Either I’m stupid, or these are all just hollow stories.
The only real and serious book about business I’ve read so far is this one by Miroslav Mišković. It’s an easy read – not much philosophizing, no spiritual platitudes that will lead you to the summits of success, no fictional stories such as are the specialty of Robin Sharma, the greatest guru in the world. There are no cosmic forces and waiting for them to align and start working. There’s nothing of the sort.
Using common sense and logic, with respect to the business principles he adopted, and of course everything he has learned from foreign consultants that he engaged, Mišković is creating and developing a business empire. He writes lightly, clearly, quoting facts, names, specific business moves.
From nothing he creates successful companies, and then sells them. When he sold Delta Bank, Delta Insurance, the MAXI retail chain and Delta City, Mišković brought in close to two billion euros to Serbia.
For comparison, in the period from 2001 until the end of 2014, the Serbian government sold 2,787 companies and raked in €2,87 billion. As his greatest success he cites the fact that at the time when it held MAXI, Delta had a billion and 140 million euros worth of loans, obtained from about a dozen of global banks.
One of my long-time friends was a close associate of Miroslav Mišković for a year. He managed a strategic project for him. He spoke highly of Mišković. The man I’m talking about – my friend – is a person of absolute moral values and high ethical standards, and when he talks about someone, you should really believe it.
And yet, when Mišković was arrested, I started doubting. Is it even possible for a man, leaning only on his own smarts and business acumen, to build such an empire in the Balkans, and to do it in a fair way?
Well, I no longer doubt it, because if he spent 7.5 months in prison, and was then released with all charges against him dropped, then I guess everything is in order. If they could find anything against they certainly would have found it.
It would be difficult to summarize the book right here, because it doesn’t have just one or two ideas on which everything was built, so you could single them out. The entire book is about business, and how it should be run.
What caught my attention the most is Mišković’s trust in young people. He sent girls and boys all around the world to open and manage Delta’s companies. And they were all successful. He plunged them into the deep end and let them learn to swim on their own devices.
Only in businesses where knowledge and experience were necessary he employed the best. For example, you cannot create and develop a bank or insurance company by entrusting it to people without knowledge and experience. There he employs top-level experts, but he always puts younger people alongside them to learn.
He says he likes to join his young associates for dinners and listen to their ideas. If he likes the idea at least 70%, he accepts it and provides all the support for its realization. While most companies cut the representation costs and check every single restaurant bill, Mišković motivates his managers to spend.
He rewards those who are at the forefront in terms of representation costs, because managers need to mingle with the clients and business partners.
“I know that 25% of these costs went to private parties with family and friends, but 75% was spent for the real purpose. That’s important,” Mišković says.
He’s very meticulous in everything he does. He’s punctual. When the board is in session, he enters the room two minutes before the start, and after that the door closes. Whoever is late can stay in front of the door.
While he was the General Manager of the Chemical Industry Župa in Kruševac (in the time of socialist self-governance), many thought that the only thing he was dealing with in the company was horticulture, because he daily took care of the green areas in the factory.
This is because he believes that a company’s environment affects the image of it among its business partners. He always has clean shoes, which is also related to one of his beliefs – a company is judged by the shoes of its general manager.
Everything is clear to me after reading the book I, Tycoon, except why politics in the countries of the former Yugoslavia is doing everything to destroy the economy and cut off the heads of the most successful businessmen.
In general, successful people here end up in prisons. Two of the most successful mayors in the Adriatic region are Zoran Janković, Mayor of Ljubljana (one of Mišković’s closest friends) and Milan Bandić, the mayor of Zagreb. Both were arrested more than once.
I won’t even try to mention all the business people. Whatever Ivica Todorić did in Agrokor, did all of it really have to end up in the witch hunt it did? He created a successful system, hired tens of thousands of people, introduced the best technology… and all those companies are still market leaders today. The whole fuss still hasn’t been given an epilogue. I believe this was just the first round. The real fight is yet to come.
Under pressure from political circles, media in Belgrade have been running an intense campaign against Mišković for years, denouncing him as the number one enemy of the state. When he was arrested, they all screamed as if Serbia was saved from all its ills, and it seemed that all its problems disappeared overnight.
And what came of it? Nothing! Same as nothing happened after many affairs in Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Macedonia.
All the governments here are racing in which will cause more damage to their own economy. Why?
The only rational answer that comes to me is that they want to keep people in poverty, because then they are easier to manipulate and rule over. And these guys here love power like no one else in the world.
When a new set of politicians comes, it will be better for all of us – the economy will flourish, and in this way, better conditions will be created for the development of our industry.
Or am I again an optimist without a cause?
When I published my book Hotel Yugoslavia a year ago, the legendary Jure Apih said in his comment: “Everything Ekrem wrote here is true. I’m a witness to it. If someone remembers a different truth about those times, then let them write a book about it.” I would say the same for the book I, Tycoon. Until someone writes a book and proves in it everything that the media has published in over 11,000 negative articles about Miroslav Mišković, he is the greatest businessman ever in this region in my eyes.
January 16, 2019.
P.S. If you’re interested in Miroslav Mišković’s book I, Tycoon, it was published by Laguna, so I guess it can be ordered through their website www.laguna.rs. Be sure to read it.