December the 13th, 2020 – The ongoing crisis has forced many to put their keys in the lock, but some have decided to use the crisis as a means to force them into jumping into something new. As Glas Istre writes, Pula businessman, Zeljko Herceg, is one such person.
“There’s no real coffee. You can make the best coffee at home. Coffee in a cafe is a social ritual, especially in our country. It’s a place for gossip,” is the first thing Zeljko Herceg, the owner of Pula’s famous Cybercafe in the immediate vicinity, stated. He’s right, it is a special ritual in Croatia, a form of socialisation that doesn’t exist now, and we’re not really really grieving for the taste of coffee but for the gentle murmur of society.
Zeljko Herceg’s cafe is now, much like everyone else’s in the country, closed, empty, with only bills arriving. Those very bills greet him at his locked door. “These are all the bills for November, and there’s no money,” Zeljko Herceg comments in his recognisable deep radio voice. His voice is his capital. His voice got him a job on Radio Pula and Radio Maestral, to which he returned during the pandemic and reawakened his old love for the radio airwaves. He works for free, but that’s not the point. The point lies in the emotion, love, interaction and communication that everyone is missing at the moment, including him.
He’s the type people wonder about when it comes to thinking about how others are coping with this situation. He is one of those people who knows how to manage with just about anything. Throughout his life, he threw himself from one branch to another. He swam well in each pool and was extremely successful. “Yeah, I’m orthodox,” he joked. By that he means he goes all the way when something bites him.
Zeljko Erceg logically started his radio career owing to his voice. Initially, it was Dilema, his first company with which, back in 1993, he launched the cult and legendary Art & Music Festival, the largest alternative festival in the region that promoted comic book culture, positioned a new youth scene, and Pula became an important point on the cultural and musical map of this part of the world. After 10 years with Dilema, he created New Concept, a company that dealt with marketing and ticket sales for the Histria Festival.
At one point, for existential reasons, he started selling Kirby vacuum cleaners. “I didn’t have a kuna in my pocket. I borrowed 2,500 kuna from a friend and the agreement was to return that amount to him in a month. I didn’t have that kind of money, and my friend said: ”You’re a smart boy, come with me to a Kirby’s presentation to see how I work. Then do five presentations, if you sell one Kirby, you don’t have to give me my money back.”
I had an aversion to that, and when I realised that I had to go on stage and that I had to spend two hours up there… Well, I ended up making many sales. In the first month, I got such great results that after that the president of the company came and me took me to Rome, London, Amsterdam and showed me how many vacuum cleaners I’d sold,” Zeljko Herceg recalled.
Although he was the best salesman in Southeast Europe and made a good living from it, after a year and a half he went to Zagreb. He said that the sale of vacuum cleaners directed him there, without him even being aware of it, to become a teacher of communication skills. The school of personal development with the well-known Pula psychiatrist Robert Duras also helped him in that field.
“We were aware that during our awkward formative years we’d made significancy life changes in the transition from socialism to capitalism. We didn’t have that system of thinking built within us. A year ago, greed wasn’t a good quality, and then overnight it was something that had added value. Suddenly you were successful if you managed to create excess capital. We didn’t all do well in that, and the school of personal development helped me to use some tools to take myself and my family on a journey, and to still remain normal,” explained Zeljko Herceg.
He added he isn’t a conformist, nor is he a team player. He tried his hand at politics, he wanted to be an uhljeb, but he didn’t succeed – he lasted a mere month.
”In a corporation, it’s interesting how people communicate. No school can teach you how to do it. If you’ve completed communication science, you don’t have a sales plan, if you are a salesman, you don’t have a communication line. There’s something missing everywhere, and that is skill. The skill is that with a sufficient amount of repetition and sufficient time and quality work assistance invested, incredible results can be achieved. In the sporting world, repetition and thus the formation of a habit is normal, in business it’s something unknown, and that’s why it needs to be learned,” explained Zeljko Herceg when discussing the skills that led him to work as an independent lecturer for eight years in Croatia.
The coronavirus crisis is, therefore, while an enormous issue, just another obstacle in the road for Zeljko Herceg, who will, for his ”next trick” open a firm and enter the world of construction in order to survive.