The newer isn’t always better

I’m prone to googling subjects I have little clue about or when I am, just in general, confused. During one of these instances, I stumbled upon a great piece of poetry by Rudyard Kipling from 1910 which instantly reminded me of a more classical piece by the King Stephen, the first king of Hungary, the ‘Admonitions to Emeric‘, from 1027.

Kipling’s ‘If—‘ is an accurate example of the British “stiff upper lip” way of living, something very common to the people of the Victorian era. A way that has recently been criticised by the Prince of Wales due to its effect on mental health. I share these views, but if we discount this as cultural influence, we find gems between the lines. Similarly, I would discount the catholic influence from Stephen’s Admonitions however significant it is from his perspective, being a first Catholic king to his country. Both of these pieces address a male offspring from a first person point of view, either at the beginning or the end. I urge you to disregard this gender bias as well, as I assume both authors would be more inclusive and less sexist in a modern cultural environment.

Although the Admonitions are guidelines drafted to establish the Catholic church and to secure its future, it continues with listing the virtues of the future leader, to a prince that never became king. These virtues are moderation, patience, humility, tolerance to foreigners, heeding good advice, and mercyWe can also identify the traits that are unwanted: idleness, indolence, neglect, immoderation.

King Stephen’s signature on the establishing charter of Tihany Abbey – © Róbert Fodor, 2017

In a very different era, some of Kipling’s advice translated to a corporate environment are:

  • to keep your calm (If you can keep your head when all about you \ Are losing theirs and blaming it on you)
  • to trust yourself (If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you)
  • to hear others out (But make allowance for their doubting too)
  • to be patient (If you can wait and not be tired by waiting)
  • to tolerate being misinterpreted (If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken \ Twisted…)
  • to stand up after a lost fight  (Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken, \ And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:)
  • to be resilient (verse 3, lines 5-8)
  • to stay humble as a leader (Or walk with Kings–nor lose the common touch)
  • to be there for others but, again, in moderation (If all men count with you, but none too much)

Yet with every piece of literature, there are things that can be highly arguable, depending on the reader: there are some lines that do not resonate with me. But I’m not here to write about those.

It must be noted that these two are randomly selected texts born 900 years apart. What is common in both, is that they talk about values when passing on advise to the next generation. This cross-generational knowledge sharing in these texts aren’t very explicit. They don’t share some explicit techniques you can find in a Forbes article, they focus on the bigger picture. Things that may serve you well in life, not only at work. Something like a universal recipe.

So here comes my point: you have an internet full of tips, tricks and techniques. Some good, some bad, cheap, and useful. There is contemporary literature on business and management, on self-help in bookstores. Yet sometimes the catharsis might just elude you. Sometimes, maybe what you need is a bit of old literature about values. You can disregard old-fashioned cultural influences that are not acceptable or relevant at this age. You can identify elements that are timeless: to listen to advice, to be patient, and moderate.

So in the future besides reading current bestsellers on self-help and management, I will just open up an old classic in the hope to find some gems, some timeless learnings.


We’re all guilty. Or are we?

I couldn’t honestly say that the past two years of my life has been a walk in the park, but it definitely had plenty of moments of success and triumph. Somehow, it always seems easier to complain than to enjoy a moment of happiness. I can only guess how much of this is due to cultural influence, but I know for sure that grumbling and nitpicking are expected of you in a post(?)-communist country.

Last January, when father died and left a small company behind, the family was completely devastated. In the first few weeks, I had to step into his shoes and manage his company I knew nothing about. I was single, and had a tremendous workload at my workplace as well. We ended up closing down the company, but I did manage to be fully present in both places. And despite the trauma and grief, I’ve had plenty of success. It was the small things, situations I never thought I could handle, I suddenly did. Social anxiety, feeling of incapability, lack of self-confidence – these are just a couple of things I overcame in certain situations. But I could just never let it sink in, I could not celebrate. In a way, I felt that everyone expected me to feel terrible all the time, to complain, to feel sad, or to express my helplessness. So I started to feel guilty: am I allowed to be happy about myself while bad things happen to me or others?

This was the first time I noticed this phenomenon. Since then, just like the constant change in my feeling of self-worth and confidence, this guilt grows and diminishes. Whenever I did a good presentation, or been asked to model in a company brand campaign, I felt happy and excited for a moment, but then the feeling guilt came over me with a powerful sense of denial – this is a mistake in the course of things, I should not enjoy this, it will surely pass. It’s an outlying data point I need to disregard.

Then, I remembered of how I learnt this as a child – a paralysing social norm, ruining healthy egos, that frowned upon those who succeed. In the old days, if you had more, the State took it away. People who had something, kept it secret. It was a rule of fear. A fear of success, individualism. Children were taught to hush about what they had at home.

Even prior to that, Christianity happened. Pride being a deathly sin, there was no distinction between a brief enjoyment of success and vanity. Less secular countries had this attitude of shaming in their very veins. Children were quickly snapped at with a phrase: ‘na ne bízd el magad’, which reads something like ‘don’t be full of yourself’.

And there’s the proverb in Hungarian that says: ‘dögöljön meg a szomszéd tehene is, which reads something like: ‘death to the neighbour’s cow as well’.


All in all, I have plenty of things to be sad about and plenty to feel proud of. What is a struggle to me, is that whenever there is something good I could enjoy, I must consciously remember to allow myself a moment of joy, to let it in, because the happy moments never linger anyway. And more and more often I succeed in letting it in. Which is something I should be happy about.

Galavant: Moment in the Sun (from Wikia)

Melitta: “Nem akarok ufó lenni”

[To read the English version, please scroll down]

Ügyfélélmény-szakértő, zöldöves folyamatfejlesztő, mentor, coach, tréner, folyamatos önfejlesztő, sokszorosan díjazott munkatárs, valamint fény a sötétségben. Hári Melittával beszélgetek a Centrál Kávéházban az aktív hallgatásról, a mentorálásról, a szuperérzékenységről, időutazásról, valamint arról, hogy miért is érdemes reggel felkelni.


A héten ért pár szakmai élmény téged. Mesélsz ezekről?

Két napos coaching tréningről jövök és szenzációs volt. Megtanultam, hogy a mély emberi kapcsolatok kulcsa az értő figyelem. Nagyon sokszor úgy van, hogy veled szemben ül valaki, hallgatod, de már a saját gondolataiddal vagy elfoglalva, hogy amit ő mond, az veled hogyan történt, arra te mit fogsz reagálni, arra neked tuti, hogy van recepted. Turkálunk egymás életében, zsebében, méhében… Másrészt az emberekben soha nem azt látom, akik ők az adott pillanatban, hanem amire képesek lennének, ha úgy látnák saját magukat, ahogyan én látom őket. Rengeteg problémám adódott abból, hogy én nem ahhoz az emberhez beszéltem, aki velem szemben ült, hanem ahhoz, akit ösztönösen megláttam. Erre építettem egy szakmát, és emellé jött szakmailag a mentoring, talent mentoring, és a coachinggal egy még strukturáltam keretrendszert kaptam ehhez. Ezt a képességemet hogyan tudom erővé varázsolni, kinyitni a másik előtt azt az ajtót, amit én tárva nyitva látok, de ő még az ajtót se látja.


Nekem úgy tűnik, mintha a pszichológia területére lépnél: érzésekkel, énképpel foglalkozol, olyanokkal, amik hozott dolgok: tanult reakciók, rutinok, gumikötél-érzések. Milyen érzéssel tölt el, amikor ezeket piszkálod?

Nagyon izgalmas, bár régebben félelmetes volt. A fejlődés az élet lényege: amikor valami jobbá válik, mint tegnap, múlt héten, öt éve. Úgy érzem, hogy ebben hiteles vagyok, mert húsz éve járom ezt az utat, és a saját bőrömön láttam, hogy működik a potenciálok felszínre hozatala. Jó is lehetsz valamiben, ami néhány éve elérhetetlennek, távolinak tűnt.

Mi volt a legemlékezetesebb saját élmény, amit rosszul éltél meg, de elhoztad a tanulságait?

Amikor nem álltam ki magamért. Egy korábbi munkahelyen történt, ahol egy félreértés miatt megalázva és egyedül éreztem magam. A főnököm, akitől a feladatot kaptam, nemhogy nem védett meg, de ellenem fordult. Emlékszem, hogy ott ültem, és minden porcikám azt kiabálta, hogy “állj fel, menj ki”. De valami belém kódolt valami azt mondta, hogy “neked pénzt kell keresni, el kell tartani magad, számlákat kell fizetni”. Benne maradtam egy helyzetben, amiből végül négy hónappal később kiléptem. Ez az élmény évekig kísértett: szembe jött még egyszer, aztán még egyszer, hogy nem állok ki magamért.

Beszéljünk erről a két belső hangról…

Az ügyvéd meg az ügyész?

Érdekes, hogy így fogalmazol. Mondjuk az asszertív felnőtt-én Meli az ügyvéd, a szülő-én Meli, aki hozza a társadalmi elvárásokat meg a korlátokat pedig az ügyész.

Hogyan tanulod meg, hogy az ügyvédre hallgass? Persze, az ügyész kell a túléléshez: tudni kell a számlákat befizetni, tudni kell, hogy mikor mondok le a szórakozásról a kötelességért, de mikor tudom elengedni a kötelességet, ezt kell tanulni. Fontos, hogy mikor születtem. Egy olyan korban szocializálódtam, amikor nem volt ennyi információ, vagy választási lehetőség. Ahogy sokan mások, a szüleim is a túlélésért küzdöttek, a következő lépést látták maguk előtt: a következő tanévnyitót, a következő autót, amire éveket kellett várni. Apa két-három munkahelyen dolgozott, hogy nekünk meglegyen mindenünk, hogy tudjanak minket taníttatni. Nem nélkülöztünk, de az anyukám mesélte, hogy volt, hogy a hús a nokedlihez nekünk jutott, gyerekeknek, míg ők csak szafttal ették. Mégis olyan fantasztikusan megoldották. Jó munkát végeztek a szüleim. Első generációs értelmiségiek vagyunk a húgommal a családban, és nagyon büszkék ránk. Látok példát arra, hogy a korosztályomban hogy nem volt meg a következetesség, rendszer, szabályrendszer, miszerint a gyerek dolga, hogy tanuljon és rakja rendbe a szobáját, a szülő pedig biztosítsa a hátteret. Én hoztam a jegyeket, a szülők pedig elengedtek bulizni minden pénteken vagy szombaton a barátaimmal, mert tudták, hogy a kötelesség kész.

Pályaválasztásban volt irány, előkép, ami felé tereltek?

Teljesen a szüleimre bíztam. Elképzelésem nem volt, de vágyam igen: tanár akartam lenni, vagy régész. Nagyon szerettem a történelmet meg az irodalmat, de azt mondta anyukám, hogy régésznek ne menjek, mert a régész külföldön van, távol a családjától és csak a földet túrja, tanár meg azért ne, mert a tanári fizetésből nem lehet megélni. Jogra mentem, de másfél év után otthagytam, mert úgy döntöttem, hogy valahogy tanár leszek, beadtam a jelentkezésemet bölcsészkarra, de egy nappal lemaradtam a felvételiről, és végül nem lettem tanár. Végül is PR-marketing szakon végeztem, a második diplomát pedig felnőttképzésből szereztem.

Visszaköszön a “meg kell élni valamiből”-elv, mint egy generációs staféta: a biztonság a legfontosabb driver. Ehhez képest egy gyorsan változó munkahelyen dolgozol, ahol nehéz lépést tartani, mert ez a 80-as években egy ismeretlen tempó volt. Most egy másfajta tanár lettél, aki segít eligazodni másoknak az útvesztőben, mint egy világítótorony, aki megvilágít utakat.

Erre még sosem gondoltam így. Nem akarom, hogy az emberek, akiket szeretek, kedvelek, olyan falakba verjék a fejüket, mint amilyenekbe én is bevertem. Ha lehet, akkor hadd segítsek elkerülni ezt a veszélyt, bár tudom, hogy van, amit meg kell élni, mert abból tanulsz. Ha a coachingra, mentoringra gondolok, akkor el tudom mondani ezeket.


Van egy erős késztetésed, hogy gondoskodj, emellett diszkontálod a hozzáadott értéked. Ez honnan jön?

Ez a kettősség igaz. Tudom, hogy imposztor-szindrómával küzdök. Talán a nőket érinti első sorban, a generációmban igen sokat. Embereket segítek, embereket szolgálok ki, az ügyélszolgálat is ilyen volt. Ez egy nagyon rossz megítélésű szakma. Aki nem volt benne, nem tudhatja a szépségét és varázsát, és hogy micsoda alázatra tanít. Ez egy olyan erős alap, amire minden mást tudtam építeni. A gondoskodó szándék meg talán abból jön, hogy idősebb nővér vagyok. De nekem az a legnagyobb öröm, amikor hozzásegíthetek valakit egy örömhöz. Azt tudom, hogy flow-t akkor élek meg a legtöbbször, amikor fejlődést, növekedést, örömet látok, amikor valami jobb lett ma, mint tegnap volt.

Szereted azokat, akiket mentorálsz, coacholsz.

Kell, hogy a rezgéseink rezonáljanak, de nekem könnyű megkedvelni valakit, nálam mindig van utolsó utáni esély. A mentoringon, coachingon az intimitás egy olyan fokát teremtjük meg, ahol a bizalom alapvető, de ezáltal a sebezhetőség is ott van, de bízom a velem szemben ülőben, hogy ezeket el merem mondani: nem él vissza vele.

Egy erős, önálló, magabiztos nőt látok minden nap benned, aki nem tudja mindenre a választ, de bízik magában, az eszközeiben. Honnan jön az a belső erő, ami sugárzik belőled?

Ez annyira meglep, hogy ezt mondod. Egyáltalán nem így látom magam. A szakmám, a szerepkör, amibe beleraktam magam, megköveteli, hogy emberekkel kapcsolódjak, és nem csinálhatom bizonytalanul, mert ki akar veled dolgozni, ha a szakmádat látszólag nem érted. A másik a hozzáállás: ki akar együtt dolgozni olyannal, aki puffog vagy morog, búvalbélelt egész nap. A magánélet más dolog, lehet, hogy senki nem tudja, hogy milyen önbizalomhiánnyal vagy kisebbségi komplexusokkal küzdök amúgy meg. Azt gondolom, hogy az esszenciája mégis csak az önazonosság. Ebben húsz éves munkám van. Én ufónak hittem magam, kívülállónak, és ez egy szuperérzékeny személyiséggel, introvertáltsággal társul: az idegrendszerem másképp működik. Nagyon kemény megpróbáltatásokon vagyok túl, hogy ezt balanszba hozzam. De a hitelesség nem választható el: önmagad vagy a munkahelyeden is, vagy nem vagy önmagad.


A kreatív energiáidat az új receptek kipróbálásán kívül a folyamatfejlesztésben is megéled. Mesélj erről!

Igen, ki lehet élni. A folyamatokat emberek hajtják végre, ezért én mindig az embert helyezem fókuszba. Mivel ügyfélélménnyel is foglalkozom, ezért azt is szem előtt tartom. A folyamatfejlesztés végül is egy fenntartható folyamat kell legyen. Nem attól tartható fenn, hogy agyondokumentálom minden lépését, hanem hogy aki abban dolgozik, szívesen csinálja majd. Azok a folyamatok, amikbe eddig bevontak, mind izgalmasak.


Nem lehet ennyi projekt magától mind izgalmas. Valószínűleg ez belőled jön, hogy találsz benne érdekeset.

Inspirálódni muszáj. Miért kelsz fel másnap? Nem csak tenni a dolgod, hanem legyen ott a “joy of living”, amitől az a nap, hét, év emlékezetes lesz. Nem tudod megmondani, hogy mondjuk 2015. február 11-én mit csináltál, de ha azt mondom, hogy “2015”, tudni fogod, hogy milyen érzés, élmény, emlék maradt benned. Nem emlékszel, hogy abban az évben mennyit terveztél melyik területre, igaz?

Én sosem emlékszem számokra, erre tartom a nyilvántartásokat.

Egy pénzügyi szakemberről nem ezt gondolná az ember a sztereotípia alapján. (nevetünk)

Ha már a sztereotípiáknál tartunk, nőként hogyan szembesülsz sztereotípiákkal?

Ahol most dolgozom, itt nemek közötti egyenlőség van: a vezetőképző programokban, projektekben, munkakörökben. De korábban, amikor máshová mentem prezentálni és nem a szemembe néztek, nem tudtam mit csinálni. Ez borzasztó, megalázó, tehetetlenségérzés.

Nagyon sok fiatallal dolgozol együtt, három generáció együtt. Mit látsz belőlük?

Bátrak, kísérletezők, belevágnak és csinálják, tudják, hogy mit szeretnének. Ez nagyon tetszik. Amikor ennyi idős voltam, én még szinte gyerek voltam. Azt látom, hogy az élettapasztalat azért számít. Amikor falba ütköznek, néha nem értik, hogy miért. De a koppanásból megértik.

Sokat tapasztaltál vezetőkkel való együttműködéssel kapcsolatban. Mi fordult meg benned?

Hajlamosak vagyunk a vezetőket idealizálni, piedesztálra helyezni, és én egy vezetővel nem találkoztam a jelenlegi munkahelyemen, aki ezt kívánta volna. Ahol ilyen vezető van, attól el kell jönni. Láttam a kontrasztot, hogy milyen lehetne, és milyen most. De nagyon fontos a kommunikáció. Egy csapatként dolgozva nem kell félned odamenni a főnöködhöz és segítséget kérni, ha elakadtál. Ha megzavarod, majd szól, hogy menj vissza később, de akkor visszamész és megoldjátok. Azzal nem leszel kevesebb vagy gyengébb.

Ha egy dolgot változtathatnál a világon, mi lenne az?

A félelmet kivenném az emberek szívéből. Szabályrendszer kell, de hierarchia ne félelemből legyen, hanem tiszteletből.

Ha létezne időutazás, és visszamehetnél egy valamikori Melihez és mondhatnál neki valamit, hogy azzal az üzenettel ő egy alternatív idővonalon éljen, mi lenne az?

“Ne félj!”


[Szuperérzékenység: az érzékek túltelítődésével jár, intenzívebben érzékel másokat, alaposabb, mélyebb megélésre kódolt személy tulajdonsága. Ld: Elaine N. Aron: Szuperérzékeny vagyok?]

[Introvertált személyiség: igénylik a társaságot, de hamar telítődnek, a feltöltődésük egyedül történik, saját maguk társaságában. Nem embergyűlölőek vagy szégyellősek. Ld. Susain Cain: Csend. A hallgatás ereje egy harsány világban]

[Imposztor-szindróma: olyan tehetséges, szorgalmas, sikeres egyén, aki sajátos önbizalomhiánnyal küzd, melynek következtében azt gondolja magáról, hogy tehetségtelen, és csak a szerencsének köszönheti a sikereit, vagy annak, hogy másokat véletlenül megvezetett. Ld. P. R. Clance–S Imes: The Imposter Phenomenon in High Achieving Women]


Melitta: “I don’t want to be an alien”

Customer experience expert, green belt certified process improvement specialist, mentor, coach, trainer, self-coach, multi-awarded colleague, and a light in the darkness. I’m interviewing Melitta Hári in Centrál Kávéház about active listening, mentoring, hypersensitivity, time travel, and about the reason why it’s worth waking up in the morning.

You’ve had quite some professional experiences this week, haven’t you? 

I’ve been to a two-day training session on coaching and it was phenomenal. I learnt that the key to meaningful relationships is active listening. It seems that usually when you sit down with someone and you’re listening to them, you are already distracted by your own thoughts: how you had experienced the same thing they did, what you are going to react to what they say. Like you have your own recipe to everything. We dig into each other’s lives, pockets wombs… On the other hand, I do not see the people as they are in a given situation. I see what they’d be capable of if they saw themselves as I see them. I’ve had many conflicts due to not talking to the person sitting in front of me but to the one I instinctively see. I build a career around this, and mentoring (and talent mentoring) adds to this, and also coaching gave me a structured framework. How to turn this ability into a gift, to point to the doors that I see open but the other might not even see the door itself.

It seems to me you stepped into the area of psychology: you speak of feelings, self-image, learnt reactions, routines, racket feelings. How does it make you feel poking around these?

To me, it’s very exciting, but it used to be terrifying. I think the gist of life is progress: when something grows better than the day before or even five years before. I do feel authentic, because I stepped onto this road twenty years ago, and experienced it on myself how this works: bringing myself to my potential. One can be really good at something that a couple years back seemed unattainable and distant.

Can you bring to the table an own experience that was hard to live through but you drew a lesson from?

There was a time when I did not step up for myself. It happened at a previous workplace, there were some misunderstandings, and I ended up being humiliated and alone. My manager, who delegated the task, not only refused to vindicate me but turned against me. I remember sitting there, while everything in me shouted ‘stand up and get out from there’. But something else in me said ‘you must earn your living and pay your bills’. I remained in that situation until four months later I eventually left. This was an experience that haunted me for years: I encountered this again, and again, me, not stepping up for myself.

Let’s talk about those inner voices…

The barrister [lawyer] and the persecutor?

Interesting choice of words. Let’s say the assertive, ‘adult’ [TA] you is the barrister and the ‘parent’ [TA] you reminding of social expectations and boundaries is the persecutor.

How does one learn to listen to the barrister? I know that the persecutor is essential for survival: you must learn to pay your bills, you must be able to choose duty over fun – but when to choose fun and let duty go… that’s what you must learn. It’s important to know when I was born. I was brought up in an age where information or choice wasn’t this accessible. Like many others, my parents fought to survive looking at the next task at hand: the next opening ceremony of the school, the next car you had to wait years for. Dad used to work at two or three places at a time in order to provide for us, to make sure we had everything we needed, to be able to fund our studies. We didn’t live in privation but, but mum told me there were times we [me and my sister] ate the meat with the dumplings, and they only had some gravy on it. They dealt with the hardships beautifully. They did a good job. My sister and I are first generation intellectuals in my family, and they are very proud of us. I see examples before me of others who didn’t have such rigorousness, order or sets of rules like: a child’s duty is to study and have their room tidy, and a parent’s duty is to provide for them. I brought results in the form of high marks, so my parents let me go to party every Friday or Saturday, because it was evident that my duties are done.

When it comes to choice of profession, was there a specific direction they drove you to?

I put this in their hands. I had no idea, only some dreams: I wanted to become a teacher or an archeologist. I loved to study history and literature, but my mum told me that archeologists are always abroad digging the ground and teachers can’t earn a decent living here. I ended up in law studies, but after a year and a half I quit and applied to faculty of arts, however, I missed the deadlines by a day, so I never became a teacher. I have a PR–marketing degree and my second degree is of andragogy [method and practice of teaching adults].

Earning a living seems like a recurrent theme like a generational baton passed around saying that security is the strongest driver. In comparison, you work in a fast-paced environment where it is difficult to keep up, a pace unknown in the 80’s. You became a different kind of tutor, who helps other find their ways around, like a lighthouse at sea.

Never thought of it like that. I don’t want people whom I like or love to hit the same walls I had. I’d like to help them avoid it if I can, but I know the importance of learning what you must learn. Coaching and mentoring are the platform where I can tell them this.

You have an urge to take care of others, yet you discount yourself. Where does that come from?

That duality is there, it’s true. I know I suffer from impostor syndrome, which may affect many women in my generation. I help and serve people, like I did when I did customer service. It’s a heavily underrated profession. Who didn’t do it, cannot understand the beauties and the magic of it, and how it teaches you to become humble. This is a strong foundation I used to build my castle on. About taking care of other, I think its source is in me being the elder sister. My greatest joy is to help to give joy to someone. I am conscious that I’m in flow when I see progress, growth, delight and when something is better than the day before.

You love those you mentor or coach.

It’s necessary that we resonate with each other, but I think for me it’s easy to like someone, I always give a chance after that last one. During mentoring or coaching there is a certain level of intimacy where trust is fundamental, mixed with vulnerability, but I trust the one sitting before me not to take advantage of it.

I see in you a strong, independent, and self-assured woman who might not know the answer to everything but trusts her own set of tools. Where does that inner strength come from?

It’s very surprising to me what you just said. I don’t see myself like that. My profession, a role that I put myself in, needs me to connect with people and I’m not allowed to be uncertain or shaky. Who’d want to work with you if you don’t seem to know your job? Alternatively: who’d want to work with someone grumpy and sulky, and is miserable all day? My private life may be different. Maybe no one knows I deal with my lack of self-confidence and inferiority complex. I’ve been dealing with these issues this past twenty years. I thought myself an alien, an outlier, and add to all this my hypersensitive personality and my introversion: my nervous system is just different. I’ve been through quite some agony to be able to tame it all and bring balance to it. But also, you must take authenticity into account here: either you are yourself at the workplace or not.

You channel your creativity through trying new recipes but also through process improvement. Can you elaborate on this?

Yes, I can, indeed. The processes are executed by people and I put them into the centre of my focus. Since I also specialise in customer experience, I always take that view into account as well. The end result of a process improvement must be a sustainable process. And it’s not going to be sustainable if all the textbook tools are ticked and done but if the person willingly executes it in the end. All the processes I worked on were exciting.

So many projects cannot be all equally exciting, so it must come from within you.

One must get inspired. Why else do you wake up in the morning? You don’t only wake up to do your duty, you must have some joy of living that makes that day, week or year unforgettable. You can’t specifically tell what you did on the 11 February 2015 but if I ask about 2015, you’ll recollect some feelings, experiences, or memories. You don’t remember how large a budget you planned for a certain department, do you?

I never remember figures, that’s why I have notes and files.

You see, that’s not what you’d think of a finance expert. (we both laugh)

Speaking of stereotypes, how do you deal with them as a woman?

There is gender equality where I work now: in talent programmes, projects, roles. But prior to that, I remember presenting something while they didn’t make eye contact but had rather inappropriate looks. I didn’t know what to do. It was horrible, humiliating, I had a sense of powerlessness.

You work with youths as well, with three generations together. What do you see in them?

They are brave, experimenting, they just get in there and get it done, like they know what they wanted. I like that very much. When I was that age, I was merely a child. I also see that life experience matters. When they hit a wall, sometimes they don’t really get why that happened. But they learn from the hit.

You experienced many different leaders.  What changed in you?

We tend to idolise our leaders, putting them on pedestals, and I never experienced a leader here who craved for that. Where there’s a manager craving this, simply get out of there. I saw the contrast of how it is now and how it could also be. But communication is essential. If you’re working as a team, you shouldn’t be afraid to go to your manager and ask for help when you’re stuck. If you bother them, they’ll just ask you to come back at another time, then you must go back and get it sorted together. You won’t be weaker or lesser of a person.

If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?

I’d rip fear out of people’s hearts. Rules must exist, but hierarchies shouldn’t be build on fear but on respect.

If time travel existed, and you were allowed to go back to a certain point in time, setting off an alternative timeline, what would you say to yourself?

‘Have no fear!’


[Hyper-sensitivity: more intensive perception of inputs, feelings etc., overloading the nervous system. See: Elaine N. Aron: The Highly Sensitive Person]

[Introverts: they don’t hate people, they aren’t shy, they need company, but they get satied quickly and must reload on their own. See: Susain Cain: The Power of Introverts]

[Impostor syndrome: high-achieving individuals with a special lack of confidence that makes them think they are talentless and are only successful due to luck or mistakenly having mislead people. See: P. R. Clance–S Imes: The Imposter Phenomenon in High Achieving Women]

Motivation: money and prestige

I am a firm believer that motivation is a self-produced resource that cannot be produced by only boosted by someone else. Much like electromagnetic induction. What our roles as ‘motivators’ might be, is to help someone understand their own key drivers, come to terms with it, and assess how those needs can be filled.

In one of my training sessions there was a heated debate on whether money is a motivating instrument. I was quick to reference a favourite theory of mine, Herzberg’s dual-factor theory of splitting factors into elements that enhance your ‘job satisfaction’ (motivators) and others that are essential to maintaining the baseline, whose absence cause dissatisfaction but can’t give satisfaction. Herzberg counts job security, salary and fringe benefits among the hygiene factors. Some of us agreed with this theory. However, another participant, who leads a sales team, vehemently disagreed. In a base plus incentive model, he said, money is a motivator. Also, he added, a person with a personal crisis in need of money will be positively motivated. Again, I disagree.

So there a thought came: it all comes down to scarcity of resources.

What a person in a financial crisis needs is cash. If, coincidentally, that person is in a base plus incentive salary model, all they have to do is an extra effort to get access to that scarce resource that is cash. But will that make them satisfied? I think not. Money manifests as a basic need of security (as in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs) and will not increase their overall happiness. I’ve been there, done that.

What a sales person (as well as everyone else) might truly wish for is esteem. And here it all comes down to measurement: 1 unit of esteem can mean an lump sum of currency, a few pats on the back, a nomination as employee of the month, a job title etc. This will vary from person to person.

If as a child one was taught to diminish their successes, if it was frowned upon to celebrate themselves because their parents feared they’d grow selfish, they might find they cannot get enough sense of accomplishment even when they overachieve. (Funny how similar it is to the imposter syndrome.) Esteem became a scarce resource. What a person with such a background might do is desperately try to fill that void with position, status, title or with money.

Voids cannot be filled until the wound that made them aren’t healed.

As mentors, leaders, motivators, or people managers, do we have to become therapists? Do we have to show a person that giving them an extra title, and extra status, a bonus won’t give them satisfaction until they heal their wounds and find what is behind their strongest needs and drivers?

Such fun! with James

I met my friend James a year ago, and we’ve been catching up regularly ever since. James was born in Australia, and has worked on both hemispheres. An expat in Budapest with a great sense of humour and just the proper amount of geekiness. A special someone who, just like me, can quote lines from Miranda by heart. He loves a good latte but is quick to destroy the art pattern with sugar. I’m meeting him at our regular coffee shop at Ferenciek tere in Budapest. We’re chatting about roots, work, software, Apple and we’ll learn which Harry Potter house he’s in.


How old were you when you moved to a considerable distance from your family?

When I was 20-21, I kind of moved out of home [Tasmania, Australia] to the major town for the last semester of university. Even though it was half an hour, travelling was a pain, so that was a test just to see how it goes. And then, after I finished university, I went to Melbourne. My sister lives there and I had that support, like finding an apartment and that sort. It was quite easy, it didn’t feel like in the movies where you come up from the subway, you have your bags in your hand, the camera’s low, looking at you being bright-eyed, “Welcome to New York!”. It was never like that, it was a gradual thing.

So that’s when you moved to Mainland Australia.

And I lived there for quite a long time. I still catch up with my sister, usually, weekly.


What was the first “station” overseas?
In September 2007 I moved to Dubai. Which is good because it was after the summer. Ah, the summer of 2007! I don’t really remember the process of physically moving, it was more the build up to it and whether I should go or not. I wanted to get a good deal, so it was worth my while. But it didn’t feel well organised, so I got there but didn’t get much organised work. The first few weeks at work, we were at this police academy building with desks and cables were everywhere, and nobody really knew what to do, so everyone was making do what they had. It just feels like something from the 80’s. When you’re working in Australia, you expect an office, and everything to be well organised. So I ended up doing a little bit of IT and trying to do research.

Did you make much contact with the locals or you were more secluded?

Maybe a couple of locals, like one local girl, an assistant. I hang around with people in our office who were expats. We had people from all over the world.

What have you taken with you from that experience in Dubai?

Maybe more mundane things, like how cities don’t function like regular cities there. The things are just scattered. There is no sense of cohesion. Maybe I was intimated before moving there because ‘oh, Middle East’, like the extreme heat, working on Sunday… You can’t get the right answers and that get very frustrating. But a good takeaway was that the people aren’t so different despite the different cultures.

How did you live through those years being gay?

All dating sites are blocked and you could use a VPN to circumvent, so there are ways around that. There were a couple of clubs to which I didn’t go to, as I don’t really go out and party that hard. Pretty much all the gay community knew those, but obviously it’s illegal, but they somewhat turned a blind eye to it. It was a bit more underground. But occasionally you hear stories about raids but I never had first hand experience. I read once that there was a bust on a gay wedding. I made gay friends there and that wasn’t so hard. I do the same things like I do here [Budapest, Hungary]: coffee and dinner and hang out. Dubai is a bit more open. I felt quite comfortable, but I’m not a person who’s very out and proud.

Do you still keep in touch with friends you met there?

Unfortunately not that much. Most of my friends don’t live there anymore. This is a problem generally. It’s hard to keep chatting like “how was your day?”


So there’s a software that you’ve been in love with and you had the chance to work with that company.

It’s love-hate relationship, really. [Laughs.] Yeah, funny. So I was first introduced to it back in university second year, late 90’s. Basically, I’ve been using it ever since. And as working for the company, I moved here.

When was that? 2011? Or was it 2012?

It was five years ago, so it was 2011. Well done, 1 point to Rob.

To Gryffindor.

1 point to Gryffindor. I’m a Hufflepuff.

It’s funny how people can get so emotional about another company. I consider myself an Apple fanboy, waking up at 4 am on a school day just to watch a live stream. But I’m much less so. I met a lot of friends through the IRC community, but I don’t participate in those forums anymore. I think it has something to do with age: when you’re younger, you’re more inquisitive. I’m glad that I had that experience. I really miss that, I recall those days fondly.

What do you find special about that age? I remember it was a nightmare to get a connection, and it took ages to download a song.

In hindsight, it was a turning point of internet and technology. Being at university, having a dial-up modem, had to plug in the phone line… I love reflecting on that or playing games on an old computer, which was new at the time. We kind of had the experience between ‘when there wasn’t’ and ‘when there is’. That transition point was an exciting time, because it was changing so [snapping fingers] rapidly.

The iPhone is 10 years old in 2017.

Looking around at this coffee shop, people with their phones and their laptops. I think we became complacent with it, which means it became integral. So I love having been young at that time to experience the evolution. And about the software, I’ve seen it change quite significantly over 20 years. And if you’ve been using something so long, then you become attached to it. I don’t know if it’s true for everything. One uses Microsoft Word but not everyone falls in love with it. Most people probably don’t.

“I think if you feel like you’re getting something from the software, then maybe you start getting this connection.”

You have a relationship with Apple software: you love it but you also have this urge to improve it.

Yeah. I think if you feel like you’re getting something from the software, then maybe you start getting this connection. It’s like when you’re having conversation with someone and you laugh, you start having this bond, this connection. Maybe it’s similar with software: if it makes you feel something, it starts to build this connection, an understanding. Maybe this is why nobody cares about Microsoft Word or Excel.

I do love a bit of Excel, to be honest.

I love when I get a formula and it works. That’s like a math problem, a puzzle, and then you solved it. As using the software, I don’t feel anything, there’s no joy. That is why I like working on that part: they joy. Maybe it’s engineering vs architecture. Constructing something a certain way brings something to the people using it. Whereas engineering is much more pragmatic, more formulas etc. If it doesn’t have that soul…

As another Apple fanboy myself, I can tell you, there’s something special about not having had to install third party software to make things work, or to install drivers or whatnot when you plug in a new device, compared to a PC.

I always feel like I’m fighting ‘against’ when I’m using a PC. I do use Windows 10 a little bit, I like what they’ve done, they’re going in the right direction. I remember ads from the past. Microsoft is more show-y, but Apple ads seem more humanistic. So whether you’re trying to sell the software with “look how good it is” [Microsoft], or putting a person there just using the software getting through their day [Apple]. I think it’s more profound than “Bam! Features!”.

Speaking of features… How do you feel when you’re releasing a version that has features you’ve worked on?

It’s funny, once it’s out, I’d already forgotten about it because of the release cycle. It has to go through a testing process, by the time people start using it, we’re already working quite advanced on the next version. I worked on a project just to fix user interface things, because I created a list over the years of the problems and I was making mockups and proposals. When I came over here on holiday before I moved here, I visited the office for a day and went through some of my ideas. But of course, I realised it doesn’t work like that. That’s not how software works: like a user saying here’s an idea, and then they do it. It has to happen in sequence. Users think they’re the centre of the world and theirs are the only requirements. It feels frustrating when I read people complain about a release because it doesn’t address their use case. A forum is not a good medium – they should talk to their resellers.



“People have lots and lots of ‘stuff’. It’s like clutter.”

Budapest. How do you feel about it?

Generally, I like living here, it’s a beautiful city, but I do miss Australia. I like its architecture, I like the people. But I don’t feel like home.

To me it’s interesting how you’ve been here for 5 years yet don’t feel like home.

It’s maybe because I’ve been moving around. Even in Melbourne, although I lived there for years, I kept moving houses every year. I think the first time I did it very homely, but as I kept moving, things became less homely. First time I took with me lots of books, which I never read. People have lots and lots of ‘stuff’. It’s like clutter.

How do you keep in touch?

I taught dad how to FaceTime, or rather re-introduced him to that feature, which was quite good. My sister usually chats with me via iMessage.

If there was one thing you could change in the world, what would that be?

As a kid, I loved playing SimCity but not just planning the city but also the landscape. In the movie, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Arthur was asked what he would like to change in Earth 2. When I was thinking of that, the things that I would do is to make more canyons, more landscape-y bits. Like Budapest having more mountains. Obviously, that would change history, but putting that aside, I would be changing the landscape to be cooler. I could say, like, ‘peace’ or something, but I couldn’t just stop wars because there’s still this animosity, there’s conflict in between certain groups. You can’t stop the thing, there’s a much bigger picture.


[People are pouring through the door, the coffee shop is full, we’re both feeling overcrowded.]

About the crowds situation. If I’m observing from a safe distance, it’s fine, when I’m in, it feels like I’m different to them and I don’t behave or act like them. Even though I think everyone’s a bit awkward and don’t really know how things work. But when I see them as a collective, then I sort of see unity or a sort of understanding. I kind of overanalyse situations, which I partly do for my own bemusement.

Is that why you love observational humour like Miranda Hart’s Miranda?

Yes, exactly. I have these thoughts that I’m different to everybody else, but in the show they’re saying things out loud that you think inside, and it’s really good to hear this. You can relate to it, but it makes you feel less unique, just more like: everyone’s a little bit weird. As a child, if you think you’re different because of your sexuality, I think it continued in other way. But I don’t like when she falls over boxes because I feel it’s a tad cheap. I think she overdoes it. But I like how they make fun of it in the episode where they’re at the psychiatrist’s.

Being gay, does it feel like it’s a separate world?

Hm, a little bit, yes.

What do you think about gay marriage?

The morals and the ideas, they feel a bit antiquated. As a society, I feel like we’re moving away from those a bit more in the last years. When I was a kid, I felt like, that’s normal because that’s what everybody does. But as I got older, I see everyone’s just doing their own thing. I realised, I can just do my own things.

If you could go back in time what would you say to yourself?

I’d like to put things in a bit of perspective. I kind of like to describe some of the moments in life, or to say ‘this is where I am now, and the bad moment you’re having now, it is very insignificant’.

If there was a message you could get across to all LGBTQ+ youth, what would that be?

I wouldn’t, because that would feel preachy and I don’t think they’d want to hear that. I have met people who’ve confided in me when going through issues in their lives but I tried to be there asking questions, not pushing through my issues.


What is the next step?

No idea, but I don’t have to have the next step. As long as I can enjoy the moment… oh my god, that sounds like a Christina Aguilera song. So I don’t know. Partly that worries me. I’m happy to go anywhere as long as it’s worthwhile.


Throughout my childhood and well into my adulthood, I had this feeling of being worth less than others. One striking example of its manifestation is that I would get anxious and intimidated if I had been asked a question by a stranger, to an extent that my voice would crack, I’d start sweating or to stutter or I wouldn’t even able to complete a sentence.

On the other hand, I had this deep urge to be brilliant in something. The theme changes over the course of time, but there is a drive in me to outperform, or just become acknowledged through my efforts. I even went to extremes at work, and I became this highly annoying person, who just can’t be patient enough to let time do its duty (as well as for others to do theirs). The level of emotional investment was unhealthy, with difficulties to manage feelings at work: achieving at work used to be the very purpose of my existence. Obstacles felt like a derailment, a potential of stripping me of love and acceptance.

Whenever recognition comes along, there is a still some struggle (although it’s smaller and smaller every time) to receive and accept it, let alone to celebrate it. The more the recognition fails to fill the void, the greater the urge grows.

You are right to diagnose all this as inferiority complex and social anxiety.

For all of you out there with similar features, I can tell you, there are ways to overcome this, and there is no shame in asking for help.

Nowadays, I have milder symptoms of anxiety and panic, when speaking to a person I find attractive, say, a handsome barista. Interestingly enough, this doesn’t happen anymore when I meet someone for a date. Neither does it happen when speaking to a superior stakeholder of mine. It does still reappear (the voice cracking, the sweating and the anxiety) when presenting to an audience of a dozen people and above.

And my next challenge is to battle the symptoms of overcompensation.

I found that there is a state in which I feel most empowered and calm but excited. I learnt to understand that along the dimensions of challenge and skill, there’s this thing called ‘the flow‘. So when I drop out of the flow, it is because I overestimate the challenge of the task and I underestimate myself, I don’t trust myself and my skills to be able to tackle it.

I am better at letting others and time work their part at my job, and I resist the need to solve everything. I focus on doing my part, and influencing without interfering. When I succeed in this, it decreases my stress level significantly. Even now I find distancing my emotions very hard, after all, achieving is an existential question, yet, I try to shift my emotional focus and invest a part of it in personal projects, which is a great help.

I still can’t internalise the recognition I get, but I am better at receiving it.

My dad, while he was alive, used to tell me to be patient, and I think he meant that as a tool for me to tackle this. And it has started to make sense to me.

There is still a long way for me to go, but I am confident I will win this battle, and I trust my capability to adapt, whatever the challenge. All I need is time and patience.

Deafening silence

I am in love with Budapest. Although I wasn’t born here, I consider it my home. The simple sight of the Hungarian flag evokes strong patriotic feelings. I am fond of the intricacies of my mother tongue, and I can appreciate a good pálinka, although it’s not my favourite beverage.

As a citizen, I expect my state to protect me from foreign or domestic harm and terror, to provide me access to skills and knowledge through education, to maintain an infrastructure of roads and transport, to supply safe drinking water to everyone, to keep a critical reserve of natural resources like gas, fuel etc. I expect it to provide electricity, internet and heating at a price if no commercial companies are available to do the same.

I further expect it to care at least at a minimum level for my physical and mental wellbeing through free health service, and through parks and recreational sites. I allow my state’s representatives directly or indirectly chosen to pass laws on the limits of our “cohabitation” in the scope of physical and intellectual property, physical and mental safety, contracts, and organisational affairs.

I expect it to operate a police force that I can trust, is fair and balanced in its routines, to enforce the aforementioned laws. I want my state to allow an independent court of law to decide in fair judgment on disputes solely based on the laws while applying common sense.

Also, I require the state to function transparently, save for national security intelligence and trade secrets.

I would not like my state to tell me whom I can love and call ‘family’.

In compensation for all these services, I am willing to pay a certain portion of my salaries, wages and other incomes in the form of dues, fees, duties and taxes. I even believe that it is fair for a state to ask for a percentage of my spendings in form of a sales tax.

This, however, seems like a contract to me.

Unfortunately, if this really was a contract, I would be able to negotiate what compensation will the state give in their failure to provide as agreed. (Similarly, as they take measures against me if I default.)

You see, the problem I have living in Hungary nowadays is not just the current politics. It really is the constant and unceasing fretting, the long-nurtured, now fossilised frustrations of the state of affairs, the maddening hopelessness we all see and understand without really facing it and coming to terms with it.

And you know, it is us, the people, who are to blame. Because most of us do not open our mouths, our parents taught us to keep silent and endure. We are not assertive to stand for ourselves. Maybe it is a result of us not wanting to face our own and our parents’ generation’s responsibility in all this.

I fully understand that there is no country on this earth that has it all figured out, but there are some countries where all the conflicts and frustrations are approached with kindness and acceptance, maybe a new deal is set up, but at least a two-way communication is allowed, embraced and even urged.

My country will stay in this dark age of repression, denial, pointing and shaming, and deafening silence. And my voice alone is just not enough. But here’s hoping…