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10 things I’ve learned after 5 years of Greek crisis

Greece has been in crisis for the last 5 years. Working and achieving results in such an environment has been a difficult experience, in all aspects and by all means. However, I feel that there are lessons to be taken here on how to manage and how to succeed.

1. You accomplish everything only with people. Without people nothing can be done – especially in hard times. People are the greatest asset but also the biggest liability. In order to get the most out of people and have them on board, talent management is the name of the game.

2. Timing is everything. And most critically, time is no longer linear but exponential: it is accelerated and with high density. Don’t wait for that opportune moment. It won’t come.

3. Take decisions – even bad ones. Or someone else will take them for you and you won’t be able to do anything about it.

4. Cash is king. Credit is dead. Banking is conditional and mostly unavailable. Bottom line: Cash flow is the life support. Without cash flow, it is a matter of time for the business to dissolve. Evaluate all expenses and prioritize – underestimate sales and income.

5. Focus razor sharp on everything. The smallest detail can easily become the next major challenge. Just ask a Greek taxi driver – Uber is now in Athens. Or a hotel owner – Airbnb is in town as well.

6. Leadership. It is simple actually: you know when you have it and you know when you don’t. As a Greek proverb says “An able captain shows himself in the rough seas”. And able captains are in short supply.

7. There is no right or wrong. Only functional solutions that deliver results – now. Because markets have collapsed and companies disappeared a change in mentality is required: everything is now assumed to refer to a diminishing industry rather than ever increasing market shares. One must just learn to manage in an economic recession.

8. Value for money has a whole new meaning. The very notion of value has been redefined as customers have changed consumer behaviors and require more for less.

9. Tactics shape strategy – from bottom up. There is no bullet proof strategic plan and no one can actually predict what will happen in 3 years’ time. No strategic plan in 2010 predicted what could happen in 2015. The safe (actually the only) strategy is 12 months ahead – and even that is far away.

10. Communication. Communication. Communication.


Rallis Vasilis