After moving to five different areas across suburban Athens and changing at least ten schools before even turning 16, feeling new and alone was part of life.
Until the age of 16 there were no plans for the future me, I didn’t speak any language other than Greek and I could barely swim. Heavily dyslectic and diagnosed with ADHD.
It was August 1998 when my buddies, Zack 16, Damian 21 and Stamatis 26 told me about their plans to travel to the US that very summer. In fact twelve days later, I was eager to take the plunge and jump into this adventure. So, I begged them to join (kind of). I somehow had my mother (and friend) agree and my distant father pay for it, just so I stop nagging him.
It was then, when my life and ambitions changed forever. I understood how many things I would like to do and I realised for the very first time that there are places elsewhere that are more suitable to my personality.
Ten years later, and after having tried to settle into life in the US without success (bad timing, I was living just blocks away from the World Trade Centre on September 11th, 2011). After opening and closing more than eight businesses in Greece, I moved to Reading, England just to be with my love of my life. After spending a summer in Cardiff, Wales, refining my insufficient English, I was there, at Reading Central Rail Station. I had four and half hours in my disposal to find a home for the next three years of my life – as long as my partner was going to be at uni. It was a familiar, weird and disorienting feeling, yet exciting. The very same as my first day in one of the numerous schools I attended throughout my life. Three years down the road and after a good set of experiences, I was heading to a new career, in film. I was EXTREMELY lucky to find my self out of nowhere managing a production of a feature Bollywood film for a full 15 days. With 212 crew members and a budget of 1.1M USD, during my time there alone.
Things took off, and I was offered a 12 month contract to lead the production management for the Arabian Vision, an initiative to get the Arab countries closer by popular culture, regulated by the European Broadcast Union and funded by Arab benefactors.
Coming closer to my present, and while my work at Beirut was coming to an end, so did my relationship back in the UK. With no further adieu I packed and moved back to my origin, Athens, Greece.Feeling over-confident, and having left all the bad this country brings along with the good for almost four years, I went stupidly BIG. I rented a new-build three bedroom apartment in the outskirts of Athens, where I spent around 15,000 USD just to make it feel “home” and paid a monthly rent that was four times what I should’ve gone for.
Being extremely lucky and again out of nowhere, in a Greek economy that was lacking such opportunities to say the least, in no time I was directing and producing low cost commercials for top-end companies. It was an exciting and well promising opportunity, but then the economic crisis hit my prospecting dreams with a knock out. Businesses tried to cut costs as much as possible in an unconventional and stressful manner, virtually any professional became gritty and hard to trust. At the time I was doing back to back commercials, I literally slept at the office on 2011’s New Year’s Eve. But my money wasn’t coming in – it was postponed like everyone else’s. To a point I was fed up and forced myself to draw a line of distance and say no more till I get paid (well, that’s not all there is to it, but that’s a whole different story).
So, I was in Greece, full of financial commitments due to my chosen lifestyle and jobless! Hooray! What a stupid man? Well? Sort off…
I was fed up, and turning into myself. To carry on, I would have to push myself to find new clients and get more work but I felt kind of hopeless and everyone seemed in the same position due to the new austerity measures. So instead of doing that, I decided to take a year off from everything and launch a personal experiment involving sport development. The experiment got good exposure in the US online sport community (around 54,000 people were following the project closely for a period of nine months, but again that’s a whole different story).
I had too many expenses to sustain myself for a whole year without working as I was fulfilling my personal project. And then what? What would I do if I can’t sustain a good standard of living?
I came up with a plan, I found a very old property in a very nice area with minimal rent compared to anything else on the market. I spent around 18,000 USD making it a liveable place and agreed to a twelve year lease with no increase! And the chance to leave with no penalty after two years.
It was a costly investment. If I was to stay for more than six years it would have been a smart move but if less, simply stupid and expensive. But, at least if things got any worse I would be living in a nice area in a lovely refurbished apartment for a price I could afford no matter what the economic status.
But, it’s disappointing, even after extensive efforts and after having been praised for projects I have been involved in. Applauded from the business world through conventions and startUp events, with mentors from Google, Microsoft and local ventures boosting up my confidence, it’s the culture I can’t stand.
It’s very self-centred and gritty (though on average and with strong exceptions). Unclear and not caring. Superficial and fundamentally inefficient in the work environment. I tried to fit in. In my own country, in my “own” environment. Both socially and professionally. But it’s unbearable.
I’ve been working with foreign companies for quite sometime now, and had the chance to travel as a camera operator and photographer for the past year and it feels good. It’s clear, provokes efficiency and productivity. And that’s part of me. I gave it a good thought for nine months, I struggled and even made self assessment charts to help me out with my decisions on my next move.
My decision has come to a realisation. I’m now in the process of moving to London (Moved in on the 3rd of Oct!!!). Where most of my friends are, my business can potentially thrive, the economy and tax system is not as fragile as Greece’s and is also way easier to understand. It’s a place where I can ride my bike and walk looking ahead and not down trying to avoid the little hazards in a chaotic “sidewalk”.