[quote style=”boxed”]Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek. This book can really make you not only a better businessman but also a better person. It explains why some people and organizations are more innovative, more influential, and more profitable than others.[/quote]
Nikolaos Floratos after his undergraduate and postgraduate studies as engineer in London, UK, he worked for a number of consultancy and Information Technology companies as consultant and project manager across Europe. After some years as an employee, he completed also an MBA (Master in Business Administration) that believes allowed him to start thinking as a businessman and not as an employee anymore. Thereafter, the last 10 years he has been working as a freelancer consultant in planning and managing large and small projects in the area of research, education, ICT (Information Communication Technologies), social inclusion, entrepreneurship, standardisation and consumer issues.
After few encounters, he realised the importance and significance of proper training in personal and professional development that he created the learn-it-easy concept that uses effective and simple training methods via face2face or eLearning in order to educate individuals to p lan and manage successfully projects that are co-financially supported by public or state funds with partners from Europe as well as from all over the world. He has trained hundreds of individuals and organisations mainly from Europe but also from all over the world on how to apply for state funding (e.g. to receive financial support in a form of co-funding and not as a loan from European Commission, National Funds, etc) and receive support for deploying their business idea or mission. He is so fascinated with new technologies and education that has just started also a PhD in the area of eLearning.
What are you working on right now?
Currently, I am focusing on the learn-it-easy initiative, that is an online portal that provides information and registration on online as well as face-to-face courses that we are offering in the area of planning and management. Most of our courses aim to make individuals competent enough to plan and manage projects that are co-financially supported by state funding (European or international). Usually such projects require many years of experience as well as specialisation in many different areas (e.g. writing well justified and convincing proposals, identifying funding opportunities, financial management, project management and quality assurance, promotion & raising awareness, sustainability, proper use of ICT tools, etc). However, our aim is first to make individuals realise that planning and management of projects irrespective of their size and funding source can be a fulfilling experience with the proper learning means and secondly ensure that individuals will acquire the necessary skills based on simple, practical and familiar principles that require no previous experience in the subject but can create real professionals in this area.
Most of our face-to face courses have a duration of five full days and the same ones are offered via eLearning so that any one can attend remotely at anytime-anywhere and normally an individual can complete them in around two-three weeks with a daily study of 1-2 hours. Very shortly, we will provide also specialized shorter courses that can be completed in 1-2 days and focus in specific elements of project planning and project management, e.g. one short course only in financial management, one short course in dissemination and exploitation, another one just in proposal writing, etc. We have also established a joint partnership with the international vocational award body, City and Guilds and more specifically with its group member, Institute of Leadership and Management and all participants in our courses longer or shorter in du ration receive accordingly a specialisation certificate by that body.
Where did the idea for learn-it-easy come from?
Being a project manager of state/public co-funded projects since 1997 and since 2002 also engaged by public bodies as expert on evaluating proposals submitted to them that were requesting such funding as well as reviewing projects that have been awarded a grant, I have realised two things. Most of the proposals requesting funding to support their business idea or mission fail to receive a grant due to the lack of some basic, simple but effective principles that are not applied by the applicants/proposers. In the same manner, the proposal ideas that even manage to receive a grant at the end fail to be successfully completed or become sustainable (to go on their own after the funding period). Considering that public/state funding is quite significant for example only in Europe is 980 billion EURO for the period 2014-2020, motivated me to create the learn-it-easy initiative and allow individuals and organisations to acquire easily the necessary skills and knowledge on how to exploit grants for supporting their business idea and mission and then manage successfully their funded project.
How do you make money?
Anyone can participate in our courses by paying the course fee. Individuals participate in our courses instantly via eLearning or attend our face-to-face courses that are offered currently in Athens/Greece or in other European cities such as Dublin in Ireland, Brussels in Belgium, London in UK and Limassol in Cyprus through our partners.
What does your typical day look like?
The exciting with being an entrepreneur is that there is no typical day. One day, I will be involved in delivering or supervising training courses, in another one I will be having meetings with potential clients or partners, or improving our courses offered via eLearning. I wake up at 06:15 every day and after preparing kids for school, I have my breakfast and at the same time, I read either IdeaMensch interviews or watch inspiring TED talks. Then, I start working till noon time that I normally break for some workout and lunch before kids return from school and get busy with their leisure activities and their studying as well as with the family. Then I continue work till around 21:00 and I try to make sure that I manage to sleep for at least 7 hours since this fills me up with the necessary energy and stamina to cope the next day.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Most of my ideas are created while thinking about them during exercise or while traveling. These are the moments that my mind gets really free and produces really interesting ideas. Then, I leave them aside for a day or so and then I give them a second look. If I am still excited with them, then I go ahead.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
The mobile and cloud technology that allows me to work and access important information from any place in the world from my mobile device and an Internet connection.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
The worst job I ever had was working as a young boy for cleaning services during a summer school break. I had to wake up for the first-time in my life every day at 6am and spend the rest of the day cleaning shops and houses for some pocket-money. I have realised that doing a job that anyone can do it, doesn’t give you an employment advantage and one way to address this is through proper education. I have invested since then a lot of my resources in receiving proper education and I believe this was a key-opener for me in finding jobs easily that were fulfilling and exciting.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
I would be more careful on the financial accounting when I run an organisation. An accountant is in fact the liaison between your organisation and the tax authorities and it is an equally important job. Choosing your accountant requires a lot of attention and I haven’t realised that at the beginning since I was mainly focusing and very busy on the business development of the organisations I was involved.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I always make sure that I have some personal time outside my organization on a daily basis. Spending time with your family and friends, doing sports, reading books etc allow you to have a fulfilling and balanced life, protect you on a daily a basis from having a burn-out from the intensive workload as an entrepreneur and advance your productivity.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Only one? In fact, I had many but I always see failures as learning opportunities and this allows me to continually improve my professional performance and attitude as an entrepreneur.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Recently, I am reading a couple of books (yes, I know two books in parallel) in lean startups and one of their fundamental concepts is always to test your product idea with potential clients/end-users before even start developing it. This will allow you to receive valuable feedback on what the product should look like (in content, functionalities, price, etc) and whether it is worth going ahead before spending substantial energy and resources on developing a product that will not be marketable. In this context, I would love to use a service that allows me to test my product concept with a significant number of individuals that have the proper customer profile for my potential product. If such a service ever exists, please contact me.
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?
I would change our education system and invest more money for high quality education that includes also formal, non-formal but also informal education. I am strong believer that any kind of education that we receive, should a) focus on making us better humans and enable us to contribute in society, b) advance win-win approaches (that I win, when you win and not when you lose) and c) be accessible and affordable for everyone in the world.
Tell us something about you that very few people know?
I used to be afraid of turbulence in airplanes but all gone since I went sky-diving (tandem).
What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?
Google Docs that allows me to create and share my work online and access my documents from anywhere. Weebly that gives everyone a surprisingly easy way to create a unique web site and Wave Accounting that is an online small business software to do their invoicing, accounting and payroll. All three are either free or very affordable and they are essential online tools for a small business. I cannot imagine my business life without them.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek. This book can really make you not only a better businessman but also a better person. It explains why some people and organizations are more innovative, more influential, and more profitable than others.
Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?
I am not that much in twitter but I use it mainly for accessing useful information through my Flipboard. In this context, I suggest
Edudemic @Edudemic that is not actually a person but a dedicated community of educators and technologists looking to enhance learning
Life Hacks, @LifeHacks that gives daily hacks, tips and tricks to optimize your life, since life is not only your work.
Tech Ed News@TechEdNews , sharing the best of educational technology and online learning
When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
Being a father of two small boys that are quite active, I am privileged to laugh every day.
Who is your hero?
I don’t have really a hero, however, I admire a lot of persons for their integrity, skills and achievements in life
Nikolaos Floratos on LinkedIn:
Learn IT easy on About.me:
Learn IT easy on Twitter: @learneasy4all
Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.