The tip is not included

24 Aug


You will never get a tip with a bad attitude.


It had to happen to me one day, and that day was today. It was a hot day, so I wanted to go for a good bowl of ice cream, one that would remind me of the days when I used to go to old and famous cafeterias in the center of Bucharest and chill off the day.

In search of a good ice cream. It was a mission for the start because it was hard to find a place which offers a bowl of ice cream with biscuits and fruits, whipped cream and strawberry sauce. So I walked down on Rytirska Street behind Mustek, and asked in some of the coffee places if they have some good ice cream. Since I couldn’t find what I was looking for, I kept walking past Stavovske Theatre and ended up in Grand Café Orient – Kubisticka Kavarna, which is a well-known coffee place in Prague with long-term tradition. I was hoping that this would be the place where I would get a great ice cream and a good service.

Wrong place. It turned out I couldn’t be more wrong. I sit down, and read the menu. I found an ice cream which sounded perfect, chocolate ice cream with sour cherries, chocolate chips and whipped cream. The waiter comes and without looking at me, he asks if I am ready to order. He was looking down, I don’t know, maybe to look if his shoes were polished, waiting for my answer. I was waiting for him to pay some attention at me, the client, who should get some service. When he finally looked at me, I gave him the order, and I was looking forward to eating it. Few minutes later, the ice cream comes, and it was much smaller than I imagined. Just one scoop of ice cream and that one was melted. When I try to eat it, I realized that he gave us a fork instead of a spoon. I never had Ice cream with a fork before. Never mind that, I ate it and it was nothing special for 135 kc.

Bad attitude, Cheating, No manners.  In the meantime, I hear a conversation between two waiters, complaining about the tip that the previous clients left, and he seemed very upset about it. I didn’t pay attention to it much. Not until, my turn comes to pay the bill. He comes to the table and without giving me the bill, he said “Its 380 kc”. I give him the money and I say, please bring me the bill. I knew already that he was trying the cheat me. He came with the bill which was just 340 kc, and before I have time to comment on it, he starts to explain to me that THE TIP IS NOT INCLUDED and that is why the bill is less than what he charged me. And here I LOST IT, but I’m a lady… I told him very politely, that I understand the tip is not included, and it’s up to me NOT him to decide IF and HOW MUCH I will leave a tip. Then he starts to argue with me that I don’t understand what he is telling me, giving me a long story, that people make mistakes between the tip and the VAT, and they think it’s already included but it’s not and he has decided to take his own tip, just like that. I was astonished, and I tried again to explain to him, that it’s not the first restaurant I go to, I know what is VAT and it’s still up to me to decide. Then he asked me IF I AM NOT SATISFIED WITH THE SERVICE. I got up and told him I’m going to talk to his boss about their approach, right now. Then he decided to take a touchy approach, and ask me if I know how much is his salary? He said ”Do you know, that I get only 7000 kc from my employer?” I couldn’t believe it, this guy had no common sense, not to mention manners. A man trying to get tip from a lady and then arguing about it, like it was his right.  Am I missing something here?  Instead of apologizing, and coming with some excuse, he was arguing for his right to get a tip.

When he saw, I’m serious about getting him in trouble, he returned my money, and left. I remained pretty calm, I must say, but I was still thinking of going to the manager and complaining about his attitude. And then I decided not to do it. I could get him unemployed, and he deserved it, but I felt pity for him. What a sad case.

I would have left tip, even if I was not happy with the service or the ice cream. It was definitely nothing to talk about, a less than average experience, but I leave a tip most of the times. That until he decided to make the decision for me, as it is his right, he thought. How sad, how truly sad. He will be poor and sour for the rest of his career as a waiter, because he has no idea how to make money.

Attitude matters. A little tip from me, for him, would be to help him understand how things work. Its pretty basic, even my dog understands how things work. If you are nice to people, they are nice to you. If you connect to people, look at them, smile at them (or not, I personally don’t care for fake smiles) give them a good experience, they will be more likely to tip you, thank you and come back again. On the contrary, if you cheat them, argue with them, and make them feel uncomfortable, your tip is leaving with them.

It had to happen to me, at some point.


What can go wrong, will go wrong

9 Aug

For some of us, myself included, every day is a challenge. It’s a challenge with yourself to make this day a great day, a good day or at least get through the day. For some of us it’s a challenge to get up in the morning, to match the cloth according to color or weather, to catch the bus in time or to drive in rush hour and to arrive in time for your meeting. We call this “normality”.

When the day goes wrong. Your having a bad day when:

…you wake up in bed next to a stranger, and you don’t remember a thing. You later find out she is your wife and you have 3 kids together.

…the doctor says you are pregnant but you’re not sure who’s the father

…you can’t find a pair of clean underwear.

…your ex calls to say he’s marring your best friend

… you open the PC and you can’t find the file you worked on the night before.

…you break your hip walking on high heels in Prague ;o)))

…you fall asleep at the solarium

They say you can recognize a day by how it starts, and some superstitious people will say that:

…If you forgot something, and you turn back, your day will go bad

…if a black cat crosses in front of you, you are doomed, my friend

…if the owl sings at your window, oh bad things will happen

Do you believe in that stuff? Or you think we can still make it work? Can we turn a bad start into a good day?


“Diversity in the workplace” is something companies care for?

8 Aug

During the 2011 Prague Pride & Tolerance Festival which will take place in Hotel Hilton, Prague, between 10th and 14th of August, you will have the chance to take part in a series of events and activities designed to celebrate the queer community and its families, friends & co-workers. Prague Pride & Tolerance Festival is the first of its kind in the Czech capital, however the first gay parade was held in New York in 1970.

I enjoyed watching the official promo video that actually presents the reality in a humoristic way, and it reminded me of a real experience that my gay friend shared with me.Video Prague Pride 2011

One of the many interesting activities on the agenda is the Business Forum “Diversity in the workplace”, which will bring together a mix of international & local experts from the business & academic arena,  to discuss current challenges and trends in creating an inclusive, diverse and high value workplace. I think that the topic addressed by this workshop is very appropriate and it was necessary to be addressed in today’s business environment, when we talk about equality between the sexes, building strong company cultures, engaging and retaining the employees and integrating & respecting diversity in teams. The event is designed for Business Leaders, HR Professionals, LGBT community from public and private sector and students. More about the program and the speakers can be found here . Prague Pride 2011 website

Great initiative guys!

Romanului i se potriveste stilul flegmatic

31 Jul

Asta ne e farmecul si ne prinde bine. Flegmatic, usor sarcastic, auto ironic, lejer pe stilul “mi se rupe”. De genul “Azi nu” – Grasu XXL , “Plec pe marte” – Cheloo & Smiley sau preacunoscuta piesa“Nu am chef azi” – Vama Veche.

Plictisiti de viata, scarbiti de atata prostie, cautam sa evadam si refulam in limbaj si comportament : “mi s-a acrit, mi s-a luat , gata nu mai am chef, asa nu se mai poate, hai mai lasa-ma. Ma aburesti, ce cacat vrei”. Parazitii sunt o sursa buna de inspiratie pentru genul asta de limbaj, si mai mult.  Dar oare cum o fi, roman fiind , sa incerci sa-ti pastrezi “identitatea” cand esti stabilit pe afara? Cum iti transpui acest flegmatism consacrat? Nu de mult, stateam la palavre cu o cehoaica si incercam sa gasim similaritati in modul de exprimare. Am vrut sa stiu care e echivalentul pentru ” ma aburesti” in limba ceha. Dar cum sa-i explic eu, ce inseamna “ma  aburesti”? Ca sa nu mai zic de expresia “ma f*** o lene”. Eh complicat, zau.

Limba romana este bogata in exprimare iar noi avem maiestria de a combina cele mai interesante expresii pentru a descrie niste trairi, situatii etc. Dar azi nu, te rog nu ….azi plec pe Marte.

Children teach you the basics in life

18 Jul

Have you noticed how children get excited for the simple things like: eating a hot dog on the street, taking a walk with the dog, jumping in the pool or making a castle in the sand? They are always eager to play, make new friends and try new things. They have a tremendous hunger for life, and they live everything much more intensively than we do. Why is that? When did we forget to enjoy the simple things? When did we stop to be interested in meeting new people or trying new things? Are we afraid of living?

I’ve been around children the last few days, and I have enjoyed it very much. Not only did I forget all about daily troubles but mostly I have been reminded about the core things of being. I have laughed with tears in my eyes for the silliest things, and I didn’t care what others think about me. I have watched these children how they have no fear and I have admired them for their boldness, and “bigger than life” attitude. And as a result to that I stepped on my fear of heights and tried rock climbing. It was FUN, and I felt so good. There were some moments when I was wondering “what the hell am I doing?”, or “OMG, my mother should not know where I am now, cause she will have a heart attack” but at some point, I managed to let go of all my thoughts and actually ENJOYED IT. I even looked down from up there, and didn’t have any bad feeling. Great lesson for me!

I also admire children’s ability to communicate with other, even when they don’t speak the same language. They are so candid and open and they are not afraid to use their body language to explain things and make themselves understood. They don’t care about what car your parents drive, how big is your house or where you spend your holiday, if any. They look at each other as equals and they make the best out of it.  Most of the times, we can’t communicate well not even when we speak the same language, or we are from the same culture. When did we forget to communicate to each other?

I think the more we try to follow some norms, or fit into some society rules, the more we forget to be. The more we look for the status, the less we enjoy the simple things. The more we fear the less we live.

Best new relaunch won by Romania’s chocolate bar – ROM

21 Jun

The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity is the world’s biggest celebration of creativity in communications.  As the most prestigious international advertising awards, more than 24,000 entries from all over the world are showcased and judged at the Festival. You can find more about the Festival here

The Festival started on 19th of June and is ending on the 25th of June. On Monday the 20th, were held the award ceremonies for the Direct, Promo & Activation, PR Lions. McCann  Erickson Bucharest won the Best New Product Launch/Re-Launch or Multi-Product Promotion at Retail with the campaign AMERICAN ROM for its client Kandia Dulce.

The campaign created a lot of controversy by playing with people’s ego’s and mocking their patriotic feeling. Rom chocolate is the Romanian chocolate that people grew up with ever since 1964. Everybody knew that the packaging of this chocolate had the Romanian flag on it. However it had no popularity among the young people. And so how better to revive a dead brand but by challenging Romanian’s ego and changing the packaging with the american flag. The campaign started with a TV advert and exploded on the social media. It resulted into  ROM  becoming Romanians’ favourite chocolate bar (79% increase of the indicator) and even ousted Snickers.

When I watched the first commercial I was in shock. My first reaction was denial “this can’t be for real”. To put this annoying guy with an american accent talk about making ROM a star, was just too much for me. No wonder they had this success. Great job!

Watch the campaign presentation, its brilliant:

Agassi, one of the best tennis players who hates tennis

10 Jun

I finished reading his book “OPEN”- an autobiography – just one week ago. I didn’t know much about Andre Agassi before I read this book, just that we has nr 1 in tennis at some point and divorced Brooke Shields. So I was sceptical about reading it, but I must say it is one of the best autobiographies i read so far. He is so real, modest, down to earth also fun and crazy. His stories are exciting, full of adrenaline, pain, struggle, self discovery, and love.

It’s fascinating to read about his development from the 18-year-old rebel who was playing tennis with a frosted mullet on his head and denim shorts, and hated playing tennis to the 30-year-old Andre whose reason for playing tennis is to help build an Academy for children to get the education he never got. He also writes about his long-term rival, Pete Sampras and his struggle to be nr 1. And finally he writes about his love to Steffi Graf and the story behind it. The man has it all: the career, the woman, the family and the Academy. Well done!

On Tue, 7 of June, Steffi and Andre were in Prague playing a friendly double with 2 famous Czech players in O2 arena. It was great seeing them together, I felt like I know them.

Same same ….but different

6 May

This expression is so dear to me, I don’t have the words to express it. When you are in Asia, more exactly in Thailand, this expression comes up in almost any conversation: “- How much is the price of this?” ” – Same same, 200 BAT”. “- How are you today?”   – ” Ohh same same”. You go to a bar and you find “Same same” on the cocktails list along side with “Lady Boy Surprise”. It is so popluar that you can find it on T-shirts, caps, coffee mugs and on many other things, which you can take to your home country and smile every time you see it.

So I take this “same same” mood with me to Prague, and I apply it in a number of situations that I get to experience these days. It’s surprising how many “same same” situations we live every single day, good and bad, fun and ridiculous, worth living or not. How many “different” things do we do today that we didn’t do yesterday? Do we learn from our mistakes? Do we tryto  improve or we just live in the “same same” mode?

I’ll give you a few examples of “same same” things which would need a more “different” approach.

I happen to work in the recruitment sector, and even if I don’t recruit people on a daily basis, I get to see many applications. The internet is full of resources on “how to write your CV”, “how to apply for a job”, “what to say and not to say during an interview” and many other, all you need to do is search for it. And me personally, I thought that the topic “how to write a CV” is past tense, as most people have access to such info. I was wrong, and it was proven to me once again that some people just don’t get it. I am truly happy that I can write on my blog exactly how I feel about it, and I will not apologize for those who will find themselves in the “same same” situations I am about to describe. I honestly hope that if you read this you will finally get it and take it with a bit of humour.

So I hear my colleagues making some comments in regards to a CV. I get closer to the PC and I have a look. OMG!!! This young woman has send her CV with a photo almost naked from the seaside with her boobs out and everything. I couldn’t help at laughing, “what is she thinking”? In case you didn’t know, the message you are sending is not a positive one, and if you are expecting to be called for an interview based on that application, you might wait a very long time, maybe an entire career of waiting. But I must give it to you, you did make us laugh and joke about it, thought I don’t remember your face, your name or what was your work experience. In the “same same” style, more than once, I have seen people coming for interviews, joined by their partners. What is that about? I think I know why this is happening!!! NOBODY thought that this could be a possibility, and so it was not mentioned on the DON’Ts list. And so yeah, some people didn’t know it’s not recommendable to bring their spouses to an interview and so they do. Please DON’T!!! When you are invited for an interview it is supposed that you are a grown up, a professional, that you can manage yourself and manage a job as well, with ought the supervision of your spouse. I’m telling you it’s a big NO GO. Instead you can buy him/her a coffee while waiting for you in a bar.  

I have too many “same same” stories, and I promise to write more on this topic, from other perspectives as well. Don’t take it personally, it’s very much fun when you think about it. More to come.

Do you “sell” yourself right?

4 May

Just when I hear the word “sell” I start to feel weird about it. For a marketer, it’s odd to feel this way, because people have expectations from you, immediately when they hear that you work in marketing/communication and especially PR. People expect that you are a bombastic bubble, over the top confident, with a sales speech prepared in front of the mirror, with a smile that you practice for years to look authentic, with a sparkling look and an appearance of a champagne: big opening, foam all over the place, nice and bubbly in the beginning but leaves you with a headache if you have too much of it.

Is your image really  YOURS or did you copy it to fit in? Or maybe it was imposed to you by the corporate standards, having to represent the company you work for. Or maybe its a cultural thing. But whatever your image is and how you sell it out there, I can’t help wonder if it feel’s good?

I still remember when I started my first job, I was 19 years old, and I joined an international company who’s primary business was selling insurance. It was a highly competitive environment, very dynamic and very sales focused. Image was almost everything for these people. There they „teach“ you what kind of colours are corporate and which are not, the lengths of your skirt, the way you should wear your hair, the type of jewellery you can wear and many other things. I was totally exhausted by this environment and I was clearly not fitting in, and still everybody seemed to enjoy my being there. On a very hot summer day, I came to the office with a white shirt which had short sleeves just over my shoulder. My boss sees me on the corridor and stops me to make a remark about the dress code:

–          Ana Maria, what would you think if I showed up at work with a shirt like yours?I answerd with a smile – Well, I think it would be OK, but I don’t think it would fit you. He couldn’t stop at laughing; imagine a 100 kg man in a shirt like mine, yeah right.

I got his allusion about my short sleeve not being corporate and he understood as well that there was no way that I will dress like him. I felt restrained and uptight following the dress code of that company, and I was not afraid to show it. Would I be a better sales person if I had long sleeves and blue corporate suit, sweating like mad while talking to a client?

Things have not changed and I still feel the same. It’s just a shame when people follow some stupid rules ( spoken or not spoken) just to sell themselves or something else. These sales rule about how you should talk to the client by his/her’s name at least three times, how you should seal the deal with option questions, how you should look like and talk like, it’s just too much. Me personally, I would like to see more authenticity and less imposed, exercised and copied images. Leave your sales speech at home, your inhibitions or somebody elses expectations and just be yourself and observe.

It is worse to be ridiculous at being fake rather than being not perfect but authentic, candid and real.Lets get real people!!!!

Are you comfortable or dying slowly?

3 May

This was the question I asked myself just recently when I had to make an important decision in my career. Do I take the comfortable situation in which I keep having a well paid job, at which I am very good at, where I don’t have many challenges and I don’t need to put an extra effort to make things work or do I take “the road less travelled”, get out of my comfortable zone and take the challenge of working as an entrepreneur.

But, was I really comfortable in that situation or was I dying slowly? Was I motivated to do the job or it was just a habit of going to work? YES, I was dying slowly, YES it was just a habit  and YES I have made the decision to draw the line to an interesting career I have developed for the last 4 years and start by setting up my own consulting and working on new projects which bring me back to life.

It’s not fear that will drive me, but the desire to achieve a balanced and rewarding life, which will grow on my will to live, on my curiosity to try, on my drive to success, and on my dreams to vision. I feel the excitement of starting something new and I happy to share this feeling with you. In the same time, I am grateful for all the experiences I had so far, for all the great people I have met and inspired me along the way, and for all my achievements.

%d bloggers like this: