Name: Nemanja Zivkovic
Title: Founder & Strategist
Organisation: Funky Marketing and Business Talks Network
Nemanja Zivkovic is the Founder of Funky Marketing, a Strategic Marketing Advisory Firm that helps solution providers generate revenue from the modern-day B2B buyer through better positioning, planning, and execution.
Nemanja is a marketing expert who has built and led revenue-focused marketing strategies for various companies for the last decade, from startups to enterprise solution providers in the technology sector.
By focusing on relationships, he and Funky Marketing have closed and worked with over 120 companies, all inbound, in the last 3 years.
He’s also a host of the Funky Marketing Show and Co-Founder of Business Talks Network, the fastest-growing professional networking community gathering 600 business professionals in Novi Sad, and a big fan of Motown, GTA, and funky music in general.
Funky Marketing podcast: https://www.funkymarketing.net/funky-marketing-show/
Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!
I hope Nemanja's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?
The most challenging thing as a leader was the fact that, to lead, you need to create systems that will help you turn that leadership into something important, into results, and take things from having the people that you lead into the movement that will lead to the promised land, aka the better world as you see it. I guess that's why I'm a strategist. I see things other people don't see. That fact makes me frustrated, and it is my responsibility to lead them down the right path for them to take to be able to achieve their goals and reach the promised land. Learning to do that took years, and it was the most challenging part for me.
2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
I had no choice. I had it in me, but my father recognized it. Maybe it is because I'm his son—no idea—but he was my basketball coach and made me a captain. It implicated that I was the one that had to speak to the media (it was very early, when I was 15 years old), that I learned how to control my emotions and how to motivate others to give their best by following my example. And other people have followed me through my whole life. I was always able to be the voice of the group.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I spend 20% of my time working, most executing, and 80% of my time thinking about work. It makes me efficient and extremely good at what I do. People pay me to use my brain, so I need to take care of it (including my body). I wake up around 6 to 6:30 am, exercise, have tea (or coffee) on a sunny balcony with the morning sun, read comics, and then dive into deep work. By 10 am, I usually finish the most important work. The rest of the day I work only if I have scheduled meetings or podcast recordings. 4pm to 5pm is reserved for lunch and time with my wife, and I try to have at least an hour, usually from 5pm to 6pm at the Danube beach, to watch the river and think. Evenings are for friends and walks, and before sleep, read epic fantasy novels. It took me 15 years to get to being able to have days like this.
4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?
Sometimes, no matter how it looks from the outside, it takes much longer to get to the results. Nothing is as hard as it seems, and no one is as good as they seem, but it may take more time for you to get there.
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
"Our actions may be impeded, but there can be no impeding our intentions or dispositions. We can accommodate and adapt. The mind adapts and converts to its own purposes, which is the obstacle to our acting. The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way." And more from Marcus Aurelius and his book Meditations. Everything I've done has been revolutionary here in Serbia. Coming from a small city and getting to the point where I am the Rising Star of Marketing pronounced by LinkedIn, where people consider me a Top Voice in B2B marketing, I could never do that if I wasn't going through the obstacles and making them a way. And especially this part of the book helps me to do what I must, even on bad days. "At dawn, when you have trouble getting out of bed, tell yourself: “I have to go to work — as a human being. What do I have to complain of, if I’m going to do what I was born for — the things I was brought into the world to do? Or is this what I was created for? To huddle under the blankets and stay warm?”
"So you were born to feel “nice”? Instead of doing things and experiencing them? Don’t you see the plants, the birds, the ants and spiders and bees going about their individual tasks, putting the world in order, as best they can? And you’re not willing to do your job as a human being? Why aren’t you running to do what your nature demands?"
6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?
Learn how to learn, and never stop learning. But also learn how to implement that knowledge as fast as possible in practice. And the last two: know your target group better than they know themselves, and learn to trust people and delegate.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?
I made a video yesterday. We were organizing a huge conference with a revolutionary concept focused on networking that would change things here. 300 people, 20+ high-level speakers, a premium location, and a community of 600 people. But things happened in our private life that provides us from being 100% involved in it. Not enough cards were sold. Sponsors were acting in a weird way. It is Q4. We took only 3 months to promote it. And so on.. So we made a decision to stop and cancel or postpone everything. But there was one thing, we needed to communicate that publically. And after I emailed speakers, partners, and all those involved, I recorded a video to say what happened, that everyone who bought tickets will be reimbured, and that it is life and it is business. Sometimes we fail, and it is extremely important to be open and speak about it. We were always honest, and we honored that. People appreciated it, we got a lot of support and praise, and now we move to the next level.