Eric Kish – The public speaker with the most efficiency in providing me with insights

Find out in this message why Eric KISH provided me with the most insights for a given period of time, from all the speakers I’ve seen.

This blog post’s content:
1. Why am I biased in this evaluation?
2. What’s the personal history of knowing him?
3. What have I already written about him on this blog?
4. What impressed me most about him?
5. How can you see him?
6. What’s next?

Note: I have doubts if the title of this message wouldn’t be better as “Eric KISH – a paradox of thought in hard truth vs. creative doubt”, but I’ll keep it more professional.

Executive summary: If Bruno MEDICINA is all about saying things which create my own thoughts and, following that, I get insights (from my thinking), Eric KISH has a different training-via-coaching method. He says something and that very thing he says create an insight, not my own thoughts. So, he’s speaking method involves creating insights via his words. At least this is what happens to me. How is this done? Find out below.

Regarding the length of this message: this should quite easily be the biggest message I’ve written on a person on this blog. Why is that? Because most of the evaluation is based on the facts that he says. It’s not really how Eric KISH speaks, it’s not really on what emotions he brings me, it’s mostly on:
a. the facts that he says;
b. the way he chooses to say those facts;
c. the way I think about those facts.
Sure, there are emotions, it’s more than a boring presentation, but all-in-all the things he says and the method of speaking is most important. I give you bellow my thoughts on that. I can’t do any cut-offs, it’s better I keep things fully open. You will know exactly why I like his speeches. All the ideas are in there.

First of all, who is Eric KISH? See his LinkedIn profile, and a page on him on Business Summer School web site. If you’re Romanian, you may Google his name.

1. Why am I biased in this evaluation?
First of all, I probably have relatives for which I am not as biased in an analysis as I am with Eric KISH. Why is that?
A. I’ve worked in a project which was ultimately led by him in 2001 for two weeks (I worked at Rompetrol Refining, Navodari – I’ll call it Petromidia from now on, this is how it’s known in the area);
B. Eric KISH ran for quite a while an enterprise which is a major for which Navodari is today a town, rather than a village; By 1930s Navodari was still a village; After Petromidia was brought to life, in 1975, the population of Navodari rose to 26,000 inhabitants (today there are more than 32,000); How am I connected to Petromidia? If I randomly analyze four houses in Navodari with people I know, at least one inhabitant of that house works for Petromidia or for a company directly employed by Petromidia; I lived for about 16 years in a block of flats built for Petromidia workers (my family was the first to live in that flat); Quite a few of my secondary school and high-school (Lazar Edeleanu high-school, the only high-school in Navodari) colleagues work directly or indirectly for Petromidia; The high-school I graduated has a profile dedicated to creating employees at an chemical industrial company (I let you solve the puzzle – which one?); Petromidia is not an abstract thought, somewhere in the ideas circle; Petromidia is the toys brought to school be my colleagues and me after a Christmas offering by the company; It’s the company that made me and my colleagues go “Wow!” when we found out that they are paying in the equivalent of United States dollars, so there are low problems with the inflation; It’s the company that does advertisements on TV in which I see people that when I was in kindergarten came to my house and brought me chocolate (and now they’re on TV);
C. Finally, I might work for Eric KISH in the future in a project; (this was decided after I publicly took the decision to write this blog post, not prior to this decision; also, I think that the following approximate logic, first heard on Isaac Asimov – I think -, applies: “If I don’t write this blog post, I win or lose nothing; If I do write this blog post, I don’t win anything, but I might lose the current relation”; so, to me, writing this it’s a risk with no perceived value)

How can I solve these biased issues? I’ll try to present more facts and the way in which I respond to those facts, rather than jump to conclusions. In this way, you can better evaluate for yourself. Hence, the lengthiness of the message.

2. What’s the personal history of knowing him?
In the spring of 2001 I was in the final year of high-school. In Romania we have a final graduation examination, and another examination at University-level if you wish to enter a good faculty. So I had two big exams in my life for that summer, the time was scarce.

And we are announced sometime that we are invited to go to Petromidia for a company presentation. The details were little-to-none, me and my colleagues didn’t know what to expect. It was in the final period of the school year, most of the colleagues were concerned on what to do next in life.

I can remember a large room, nice architecture and lights, good chairs and, surprise!, lots of speakers at a long desk. There was Eric KISH, CEO of Petromidia, there was the principal of the high-school, there was the director of human resources of Rompetrol (I think that was the position she held), there were teachers from Ovidius University and Lazar Edeleanu, there was a school inspector for physics in Constanta county and possibly other persons. Most of them held a speech.

What I remember from Eric KISH’s speech? He said things like (I hope you can forgive my forget-after-8-years’-time memory situation):
A. We will offer you a decent work place, with legal contracts (this is quite rarely met in a lot of jobs in Romania, even nowadays, and a lot jobs are only half-legal); That didn’t leave a mark on me; What was I to know about the workplace back then? Looking backwards, it was quite a tempting idea; Perhaps insisting on what the reality is, with some statistics on how other companies do this, would have helped solved the mystery;
B. We will create an IT laboratory at the local high-school; (We were graduating; Why would we care about that? But for the we’re-such-a-great-company image it was a good thing)
C. We will give you scholarships for your studies, if you decide to come back and work for Petromidia after graduation; (this really spotted my attention back then; Right now I think there’s no such thing as a free lunch, and I would politely refuse the offer)
D. You can work for us even if you go to University; (the condition was not to have full-time studies, which was very bad for me)
E. (at the end of the session) You have to go online and apply for a job at us (creating a CV and applying to a job); (Besides checking the IT abilities and will power of the candidates, I think this was an uninspired idea, but I was amazed to see just how many people actually did this)
F. Eric KISH said the very first thing he did when he came to Navodari (after managing some oil business) was going to the high-school and contacting the principal; He wanted to get a confirmation from the principal, which he did;
G. He also said that at some point he wants to teach at a University.

At some point, after the speech, he said he wants to see who out of the audience has courage. He provoked us to speak. And while my cheeks turned red and I started thinking of the-perfect-question-to-put-in-such-occasion, others spoke with him. Microphones were flying, people were laughing, I was all red, thinking what I can say.

How did other people react to what Eric KISH said as reply to such things?
A. I remember a thing the physics inspector for Constanta county said: Petromidia tries to be like the Western companies, that employ good policies for the community; (he was referring to CSR practices) I was amazed – this is a typical situation in the West?
B. The Ovidius University teacher invited Eric KISH to come not only to the high-school, but to the University also; (at this point Eric KISH laughed)
C. When one girl said she wants to candidate for a Marine life, Eric KISH said a thing similar to “A girl wants to join the Marines. I think she deserves applause”; And the whole room, including I, applauded her; I didn’t even notice that thing, not to mention consider it applause was called-for; I was intrigued;
D. At some time he said (I think) something about sports; He asked “What age would you think I am?”; There were three replies, all of which were lower than his actual age, revealed by him; There was some rumor in the room; Quite a living audience in Navodari;
E. One girl asked him “How much to you earn?” At this point Eric KISH laughed and said that his salary is proportionate with his responsibilities (I think this is pretty much the very first PR answered I’ve heard and remembered in my life; so corporate, so telling-me-nothing-and-avoiding-the-answer-in-a-not-so-upsetting-way); But more interesting than Eric KISH’s reaction was the reaction of an important person in the high-school; That person looked down, tilted its head, and clapped its hand on the forehead; (“Is this girl representing our high-school?”) Quite amusing, I must say.

How did I felt about Eric KISH’s presentation techniques? Much later, Bruno MEDICINA asked the persons in a room – “Who has the most guts/indolence/lack of sensitivity out of you?”. And he would give great assignments to those persons. I think that was the emotion that came to me most at the beginning about Eric KISH – I saw a person that just said tough things. (which was quite annoying and provoking to me; and I really didn’t like it all that much, but it was very intriguing)

Also, I was very impressed by the fact that Eric KISH managed to invite so many important people at the same desk. When, that very year, at the inauguration speech at my Faculty, there was a similar desk with lots of people, I found out that this was a method rather than an one-time-idea. I loved the procedure, it really struck me – “If you wish to impress a group of people, put in them a number of persons with good functions”.

What happened right after that presentation? I found out from a colleague that Eric KISH is the “Executive director” of Petromidia. “He’s what?” “Executive director” “What does this mean?” (he laughs) “He can fire you anytime” “That young guy is the chief of Petromidia?” “Yep”. I left confused.

I also had lots of hopes following the presentation of that day.

So I put my CV online at an Internet cafe, and find out with surprise at the end that I have apply to the job after I put my CV online. I warn my colleagues at the high-school about that, most of them listen.

I take my final graduation exam at school, I apply for three universities in three different regions of Romania (and the same faculty at all three), and luck shines on me. I pick Bucharest, and my future is then set.

I come back from Bucharest and find out, via email (most colleagues also got a phone call), that I’ve been selected to the “Our home is like a flower” program (I won’t comment anything on the name, which is quite hard for me; just think of “home” as an “industrial complex with specific smells, specific colors and specific looks”; now associate this with a “flower”; to the defense of this name, I do get lots of insights when thinking about it).

Now, imagine high-school time as the time in which I belonged to the most important community in my life. Sure, the later years in some hostels in Bucharest, sharing a room with three people for an year (you only had two options with the colleagues: love or hate), were nice also. Sure, the secondary school years were lovely themselves. Sure, I’ve had some great time in the very first years of life, somewhere in Bacau county, at an aunt. But high-school was the best period of my life, concerning social interactions.

This high-school period ended in two different times: after the last exam we had as whole class at the final examination (Informatics), we were all walking by a road. The whole class. I remember that road pretty well, it lead me apart from high-school and it’s quite painful (I had yet another examination to complete that exam). Then there is a moment when about half of our class was gathered in front of the high-school, waiting for the Rompetrol bus to get us to work (after the Universities exams period ended). There was a list of admitted students, some pupils tried to get in but after filling out their CVs online they didn’t apply to jobs, so they were not accepted in the bus. And while the bus left, some memories of mine remained there with a few colleagues of mine, as the last memory of high-school time. At Rompetrol I had a few colleagues, we laughed and enjoyed ourselves, but it was different. We were on groups, we actually worked for a change, we were just a few. We even went to the beach at the end, but it was just not the same. Not in my mind, at least. High-school time was already over.

Now we got to Petromidia. There were just a few people speaking at a desk (not-as-advertised-at-the-presentation), the speech was short and we were not provoked. I also noticed a reply by Eric KISH to a question. “What’s the salary? It’s the minimum wage per economy, as said.” I can’t remember why I was so upset by this reply. Oh yes, it might have been because I didn’t remembered the sentence having been said before (“as said”).

So, from now on we did another thing for a change: we started working.

The time passed. I would have loved a questionnaire at the end of the project to be able to associate the project with something, based on emotions, and see how many of the participants would pick a “Lovely flower” as a common association, but I had no such opportunity. We learned some things on project management (theoretical aspects), we had a good meal each day, and I personally even managed to to keep about 10 percent out of the salary given, as it was deduced by a fine I paid two years later for not submitting my revenues information to some Fiscal authority in Navodari.

At the end of this work time, there was another meet with Eric KISH. He gave T-shirts to all of us (quite a good model, although branded it felt good) and a diploma, and he has personally shaken hands with all of us. He even put a T-shirt over his costume which left me with a very weird feeling. (“Eeew!”) Looking backwards, it was not all that bad.

But before we get to good-bye time, there was another event. Eric KISH said something about some scholarships by Rompetrol given to students to return later to work for them. I had this situation prior to speaking:
a. At a previous meeting, I didn’t spoke and felt bad about this;
b. When announcing the minimum salary, I felt I poorly understood the situation;
c. At that very moment I had a very good question to pose, a real question, and an opportunity to speak;
d. I was sitting very far away from the desk, with no colleagues closer to me than 15 meters.

So at this point he asks for questions, no question is posed (I think it was this way). Anyhow, right now I basically yell at Eric KISH, and due to the emotions, I sound an angry voice. “What’s the salary you’ll pay us when we return from studies?” I think this is a situation. Now comes the psychological solution of freeze-fight-flight. Which to pick? I’ll just say that he mirrored me (of course, for me to hear better) and says “I haven’t heard that question before. If I say to you that I’ll pay you after all those years the current minimum wage per economy, would you accept?” (in Romania at that time both inflation and salary increases made a current salary look small after a few years) I could have given solutions like evaluating in dollars, but just mentioning minimum wage salary cleared my questions. And I was like dead nervous.

So the Rompetrol experience ended there, me and a few colleagues went to the beach that day. I told a friend that I’m thinking about that “I haven’t heard that question before” thing and I wonder if I did wrong. The friend says that it was a justified question, so I calm a little.

To see what effect made this affirmation on me, I’ll present you two situations:
a. Third year of studies – during one exam; The teacher calls the list of present students; He gets to my group of 20 people (in the room there were about 1-200 people; all seminar hours were done with my group of about 20 persons); He calls one name, another, almost the whole class; There was basically one large group with all the students in my group and another “island” with two persons; He finally gets to me; I was in the back of the room, no other of my group mates was any closer than 20 meters, in a corner; I yell at the teacher “[I’m] Present!”; Like a Romanian writer (Ion-Luca CARAGIALE) used to say: rumor in the room;
b. The end of second year of studies, last real class (the last one was mostly for fun); A teacher finally says to me, after two years of waiting for this moment: “You should do like everyone else does!”; (regarding my staying all alone, putting not-so-pleasant questions, doing things like I want, and not one time caring about “I haven’t heard that before”).

So, I’d say I really did change my behavior after meeting with Eric KISH. Now I place myself farther away and act more annoyingly different.

And I must add that while most speakers would say “That is a very good question”, Eric KISH’s solution of “I haven’t heard that question before” is a quite welcomed differentiator.

So this is how my Rompetrol experience ended. And while I entered life, in that autumn of 2001, with high hopes in my skills and with good feelings about my emotions, the Bucharest life would soon change this. So much that four years later, in the summer of 2005, after graduation, I was entering life yet again with lesser hopes in my skills (good in Navodari, not-that-great in a competition environment), with crushed emotions (Bucharest and all), but with a brand new hope: neither the skills nor the emotions are that important, but the willingness to continue to fight is. What’s that? The basic thing that in a no-need-to-be-improving situation, I still need to improve. It’s that simple.

During the first year of studies, I found out about a colleague in the hostel who has seen him as a presentation of an volunteering organization in the Academy of Economic Studies – Volunteers for Ideas and Projects. He was impressed by what Eric KISH said about doing great stuff about Petromidia. Now the flower thing pops up in my head and I argue with him, but I didn’t convince him.

I think it was sometime in the winter of 2002. I was sitting in a hostel from my University (the area where I lived is known in Romanian as “Agronomie” – Agronomy – due to the closeness to the main office and University campus of University of Agronomical Sciences and Veterinary Medicine Bucharest). In a certain week, sometime in the week-end (Saturday or Sunday, perhaps even in the time-frame designated to learning by the University and used for a lot of other activities by the students, see below), there was an event with Eric KISH. I called upon my room-mates at the hostel to come with me, they refuse me. (and follow their financial career, instead of wasting time like me) So I go all alone, in a not-that-busy town (Bucharest can be quite Ok with low traffic of morning week-end) to the Academy of Economic Studies – Aula Magna. I place myself in the first or second row of seats of a room filled with people and watch the show. What really amazed me (besides the fact that no one was learning in this school) was the fact the room was full of people. And I don’t speak about a small seminar classroom. No. It was a very large room. I was surprised that so many people came. He was the only speaker on the list.

What did Eric KISH say in there? I mostly forgot, but I do remember some things (approximate understanding):
A. (being invited by AIESEC organization to this event; they put all the work in making that room filled with people) “You know, doing volunteering work for an organization such as AIESEC doesn’t really impress me as an employer. I’d much rather see a McDonald’s employee coming to my office”; He went on to tell us just how much McDonald’s invests in trainings and that an employee must smile no matter how its feelings are in that moment; (he actually spoke some unpleasant words in here, for which he apologized) My reaction to this? (and other times he says he can predict what changes people – a certain action) Well, putting it simple you can’t predict anything; I can surely make a person to sing for money, work in foreign countries, serve the military, do karate, be a workaholic, love challenges, and be nowhere near Eric KISH is; The fact is that:
a. Besides behavior, there are things like environment and genetics; (some people may live a different life in the Israeli army right now due to changes in the environment; and some people won’t have a voice to sing, a body to do karate, or they can need more sleep to perform well – genetics plays a huge role)
b. If I can make an association to what Eric KISH says, it’s like that: “If I learn Greek well enough to read Plato’s Dialogues in Classical Greek, and the book puts its mark on me, then Plato’s Dialogues are the one book to be read by everybody to live my life”; But Classical Greek can be understood well only if I read other literary works, not only blunt Grammar; If I read works on arts in Classical Greek to learn the language, I’ll interpret the book differently than if I read works on philosophy in my learn-the-language period; If I read religious texts, I will understand things differently than if I read historical texts of that time; It’s not only Plato’s Dialogues that form me, it’s my whole experience that surrounds it; And while I can say that Plato’s Dialogues are a great thing to read, life is much more than that; Coming back to the example, there are many other forming things in a career than a job at Mc Donald’s; It’s just not that one event, is the never-repeating mix of events;
c. I also believe that while there are sure paths to failure, there is no sure path to success;
Anyhow, saying to AIESEC in their face that they are not such a thing to be joined took some courage; It’s also a paradox that he accepted their invitation, while Rompetrol sponsored them; I can assume that the paradox is only on the surface – He can say that a sea is green (it really is; and it sounds cool), he can say that the sea is blue (it is; lovely thing to say), but he would much rather say that the sea is not green and blue at the same time (it sounds so boring); So, to me Eric KISH’s paradoxes are expressed in such a way that do a little thing called “Shock you!”, while they not fully express what he means; It’s definitely not a lie, just an incomplete truth; You can associate this with the answer to “What are you doing”: “I’m doing great!”; Surely, you may be doing some things which are not that great (and Eric KISH’s might actually go into those answers, to shock you), but the answer itself is not a lie; It’s a just a way of partially saying the truth; It’s also one of the reasons why I left the PR career;
B. I think it was at this event that I’ve heard him saying that he used to sing in the faculty for some events;
C. (related to point B.) He said that going to school was a big waste of time, we are much better skipping classes; (I remind you that he was speaking in the most important room of the Academy of Economic Studies) Also: “Teachers are failed persons who can’t get a decent job elsewhere”; You can’t but wonder why at Navodari he invited so many teachers near him, while he also said that he wanted to teach at a University; I would say that he feels that his sentence is true, and in the same time there is another factor which holds the paradox together; He just chooses to tell you one side of the paradox;
D. At some point some one in the audience asks him how useful was the MBA for him; He does a zero with his fingers; He gave some examples that he already knew some of the stuff thought in there; Now, returning to the “zero” argument; You have to option into judging Eric KISH in here: one doubting his intelligence (he could have left the MBA anytime), and one feeling there is another balancing reason for taking a long-term enterprise; So, the full answer would be “Even if I consider the MBA time not that useful, I chose to stay for that long time and study it full-time because …”; He just gave us the short version; Mark it with a live metaphor and you get a great response from the audience and big points for the PR industry;
E. He told us that the moment in which Rompetrol went to the Bucharest Stock Exchange, the informatics system of the institution crashed due to the huge number of transactions in that day; “We crushed the Stock Exchange”; Quite a hard-to-forget sentence, won’t you say?
F. Eric KISH spoke also about making informatics a big part of Petromidia’s life, with real examples; (examples with what I’ve read about him mix in my head, so I’m not sure what he said in there)
G. (tough subject) One person in the room asked him for a change in his life regarding values; Eric KISH said it’s not his task to change the world, but that of the future generation – the persons present in the room; He said he’s too old for that.

Time passes yet again. I get to find out about some projects of Rompetrol to offer scholarships for students, for some projects to hire fresh graduates from Universities, the commercials on TV for Rompetrol were quite lovely. (see a IQads page in Romanian on that – scroll down)

By that time, I was from time to time asked in an organization I was part of – LEADERS Romania – what speakers I would invite to the conferences? It’s hard for me to remember a time in which I haven’t recommended Eric KISH. But my colleagues were smarter than that, and it would take years before Eric KISH was invited by LEADERS to speak at their events. I wonder what he has to say about the organizers of these events.

Here comes the spring of 2006. It was a time between jobs. I was so stressed by that fact, that I went to every conference I could, from time to time being out from dusk untill dawn. In this period of time I take part to a three-days event at Sutu Palace in Bucharest: Expedition in Human Resources.

If you wonder how could I, a masters’ student, join a conference in which there was a registration form for only for students interested in HR, well let’s just say I have nothing to declare on that. But I was strangely silent those days. I was sitting in the first rows.

I’m looking at the list of speakers, and Eric KISH is marked as a special guest. What did he said? At this point I’m pretty sure I was writing everything down, so somewhere in my home there is a paper with this. But I do think it’s more relevant to say about the things that really left a mark on me and I remember them by memory:
A. Eric KISH gets to speak right after a representative of another multinational company; At the very beginning of the presentation (which was more like a workshop, the audience was involved a lot), Eric KISH picks on the company before him; He knew some cool stuff (only from the spectators’ point of view) about their leader (he forced some good transaction for its company and bad for the providers due to the size of its company; he fired a lot of persons); At some point, he said a memorable fact (approximate quotation): “They always tell you you could be CEO. You’ll never get to the CEO position”; (which is quite funny, considering his own positions; I think you know it by now – add this to his quote “but I do have mention that” and things get clearer) Anyhow, this is right about the very first time I ever heard someone picking so hard on the previous speaker; Funny thing to imagine: “Who’s next on the discussion list? Oh, no! It’s Eric KISH. He’ll pick on us. Nooo!”;
B. Somewhere at the beginning he defined his presence in the room: “I’m here to provoke you”; And provke us he did;
C. He started doing this right with the title of the conference – “How do you define success?” he asked; People spoke mostly about career, and he put emphasis on the personal part; By this time, it should make no surprise to you that a person who declares that works a lot, goes from a country to another following a career path, considers personal life so important;
D. The “Why?” thing: He said at some point that in a factory there were a lot of problems solved by the fact that a manager kept asking “Why?” and they got to a very nice observation and helped solve a problem (or I might have read this in a paper and now I wrongly associate it with this event); Anyhow, he started picking on a poor student (the student enjoyed this, I think), continuously asking him “Why?”; At some point the student was blocked, but it was funny to see it; A psychologist might tell him that “Why?” question has some bad interrogatory-like associations with it, and it can be rephrased with things like “What’s the reason …”; (or you can also use “Why?” it even more thoroughly, if provoking was the intention)
E. (regarding D.) He said that this is why he has a problem with God – God doesn’t answer the “Why?” question; I think that besides Horia-Roman PATAPIEVICI and Nicolae STEINHARDT, both self-declared Orthodox persons, I won’t comment on any religious views of persons I talk about in this blog; So, let’s us the declare-in-public opportunity and give a reply; There are two options for reply – defensive reply or provocative; Let’s try both – How can one Christian (such as I) reply to the “Why?” question:
Defensive reply:
a. If by “Why?” question one intends the very means through which one gets to God (“Why is it that God …”, “Why do priests …”, “Why do churches …”, “Why do believers …” – a lot of people stop on these), I can give comforting news: means don’t really matter all that much; You are told not to do this and that; You are told not to do this and that; (this is where means get involved, a lot of people stop here) But you are also told that you can be forgiven for all those things in the very moment you wish to stop doing them and confess past things; You are also told to be perfect, and in the same time reminded that only God is truly good; (so it’s somehow not expected from you to be perfect, even if you should strive to be so) You are also not given a scale; (I do this good deed X – this values like Y sin; they compensate; we’re even now; No! You don’t know the scale; You can’t tell how much value does a good deed bring and how much bad value does a sin bring; Not having a scale means that you can’t tell if you really did all that good on Earth or you did bad; You don’t have the scale to judge it) Through all that, I think there is enough evidence for this: There are a lot of ways to get to God, it might be simpler than thought, and not one person on this Earth can thoroughly evaluate another person – “This one will get to heaven, this one will get to hell”; The uncertainty solves, at least to me, the means: you can save your soul in different ways, unexpected perhaps; The thief on his right of Jesus, on the very basic level, only said two things right before dying.
He is thought to be the first one to enter the Heaven, in front of all those patriarchs of the Old Testament; The “Why?” question regarding means is really not that much of a deal; Regarding my own observation on this level: I have yet to meet a priest (doing everything he can regarding the thought-to-be-good means) about whom to write on this blog; Perhaps I evaluate on different ways than expected; This doesn’t stop me to consider that I am an orthodox;
b. If “Why?” question refers to the very question of God: I will solve this with the help of a paradox; You have two options:
i. Don’t believe in God, try the empirical method – “I believe in what I see, feel, touch, hear”;
ii. Believe in a God who has, among others, the purpose of letting me free to decide – “I believe in something that is present in my untouchable soul. He deliberately chose to keep Himself hidden.”
I can’t answer the paradox, I can’t tell you why i. is to be preferred to ii. That’s for you to decide. On a logical level, you might only pick i. The lack of proof make it a clear choice. On a wish-to-believe, dare-to-hope, try-to-love level, things might be a bit different. (you might pick ii.) Anyhow, I can solve the paradox just by creating it: you have reasons to trust sciences, you have emotions to believe in God. If there is an option, the paradox is created and option given. The solution is not mine to live, but, nevertheless, it still exists.
Provocative reply: How could I attract one to orthodoxy? To Nicolae STEINHARDT, described on this blog, considers orthodoxy to be best explained by paradox. It doesn’t give you a solution, by the contrary – it asks for opposite things in the same time. (you can’t be perfect, you must strive to be perfect) This quote about paradox is a favorite of Nicolae STEINHARDT: “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24) I’ll consider this: if you pick one side of the paradox, briefly explain it to make provocative assumptions, what would you say about this – you can live a life the paradox unsolved (not one thought to the left, not one thought to the right; not to the middle; and each of them, taken separately, can be great solutions), while the life will be much tougher than a provocative assumption. Choosing a side of the paradox may create good PR, may be an excellent way of presentations, but living the paradox (and Nicolae STEINHARDT thinks that orthodoxy is just about it) can be so much better right within you. The feelings might be better than making one’s mouth drop. End of advertisement;
F. At some point Eric KISH spoke with a student: he put a question, the boy answered fast; Then Eric KISH said we shouldn’t be really speaking from textbooks; He wants to hear our own words; Not too many rushed to say something;
G. (regarding F.) Eric KISH gave us a little test: What was (at the beginning of 2006) the biggest car producer in the world? An answer came to say that it was General Motors; Eric KISH contradicted him, and said that recently (for that time) Toyota‘s sales were announced to be higher; Now it was really unimportant for me which was number one on the market, but I’d have to say that the point was well taken: you can’t learn the latest news from the books and I understand why it is important to practice more than reading stuff in books;
H. At some point, he asked the audience on a dilemma: he is doing a nice life in Israel, and yet he has a job opportunity in Hong Kong; (I hope I haven’t mixed locations) Good job, but would require a lot of changes in his life; What to do? Even if he spoke quite a few things on living a perfect family life should be the real success, there were a few replies, all of them in favor of the “leaving” part; (perhaps the stay-in-Israel people were quieter; family persons) He said he hesitates on this one, the answer is not that clear. (which, if this phrase is not added: “although I must say”, would mean something bad about his actual decision; he did go to Israel, so the phrase must be longer than that)

3. What have I already written about him on this blog?
In a message written in March 2009 – Why, to me, the Strategy Conference in Human Resources, organized by HR Club Romania 12th March, 2009, at J.W. Marriott, Bucharest had the best conference organization I’ve ever seen? – I have already spoken about the last time I’ve met Eric KISH. Here’s what I said (I hope it’s clear now why the MBA part is trickier):

But the speaker I liked most at this conference wasn’t present with his name in any of the speakers’ lists. He was serious, no joke when he held his speech. He had a less-than-one-minute speech, which he started with “I am not a HR person”. In that one minute, he made two affirmations which made my mouth drop:
a. (approximate understanding by me) We will launch a HR Software solution for the US market;
b. (approximate understanding by me) Within companies with a turnover of a range from millions to billions USD, we wish to hire CEOs and CFOs. All of these positions come with no special MBA required.

The affirmations (or at least how I understood) were made by Eric KISH (VP Retail The Rompetrol Group). It made me wish to include him on this blog with a dedicated blog post.

What have I learned from Eric KISH? In his one minute of speaking it made me understand that the MBA has some value (he said exactly the opposite thing, but, nevertheless, it made me wonder).

I could add that in that very morning of the Strategy Conference in Human Resources, I talked with a HR Club little helper and I said “Wow! Eric KISH is on the invites’ list!”, while the reply came “You like Eric KISH too?” Girls …

4. What impressed me most about him?
By now, you should have right about all the major facts that impress me most on Eric KISH. And when I mean “all” it’s like “all”. You’ve got the full picture. I have even given you from time to time my reaction to the things he said. To answer the question is this: what impresses me most about Eric KISH is the way he handles the paradox: from one sentence
“I consider that X is totally …, but on the other I hand I have to admit that X is still …”,
Eric KISH’s style is something like:
“I consider that X is totally …”,
although I feel that the sentence is only spoken that way and thought differently. But hearing him speak like that always makes me wonder “How would this phrase continue?” And I get to lovely emotions, ideas and thoughts just by filling the blanks. The insights I get most of the time are just great.

Yes, he says some smart things, he doesn’t bore you, he makes people laugh (and laughs whenever he chooses), but the main mechanism that makes him so interesting to me is exposed above and that’s why I like him as a speaker so much.

5. How can you see him?
Eric KISH has a way of participating in all kinds of events, and if you’re a student in Bucharest (and not only), you should be able to get to see him sometime. Here’s his public LinkedIn profile, while Googling his name (in Romanian) will also yield some other interesting results. This blog post is strictly referring to the way in which he helds speeches, I can’t tell you about anything else.

6. What’s next?

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Bottom line: If you like being provoked, moved, touched, make yourself a present and participate in a conference with Eric KISH. I’ve had the most insights in a given period of time, more than any other speaker I’ve seen.

I am a Freelancer. My expertise is in SEO (Search Engine Optimization) / UX (user experience) / WordPress. Co-founder of lumeaseoppc.ro (series of events on SEO & PPC) and cetd.ro (Book on branding for MDs). On a personal level, I like self-development - events, sports, healthy living, volunteering, reading. I live in London, and lots of things live in me.

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