How a poem by Cavafy guides Manos Nikolakis of BIC Cello India

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Manos Nikolakis has been leading the Indian operations of BIC Cello, a stationery and writing instrument brand, since 2019. Previously, he led the organization’s operations in the South, East and Central African markets . In an interview with Mint Lounge, he talks about what makes a good mentor and what it takes to lead a team effectively. Edited excerpts:

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Who is your mentor?

I never had a person I called a mentor. Naturally, there are people that I proactively seek to spend time with and get advice. I try to put together pieces of advice from people I admire for motivation and inspiration. I believe that interacting with people from diverse backgrounds allows for a multidimensional approach to life.

I participated in a mentoring program organized by our company a few years ago, where I learned to see things from another person’s point of view. The mentor I worked with made me look at things from many angles.

The experience changed my life, as it made me realize that there are often factors that we do not take into consideration when making decisions.

It is essential to have an overview of any situation. By questioning yourself, challenging yourself and respecting the status quo, and being open to a variety of opinions, this can be achieved.

How do you supervise your colleagues?

A mentor should bring out the best in you. With your mentor, you need to feel comfortable, you need to know that you are sharing information in a safe space, and you need to be comfortable enough to share and accept advice and advice.

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I would say that interacting with a mentor should leave you motivated and hungry for another discussion. They should help you broaden your horizons, get you to think in different ways, and start good and effective conversations with yourself.

My goal when sponsoring colleagues is to keep them motivated and inspired. The starting point is absolutely crucial as it helps build trust.

I aim to make the mentoring sessions take place outside the office to get out of the mentor-mentee label. My preference is for meetings in person, over coffee, a meal or even a drink. It makes the relationship much more personal.

What’s your morning routine?

I am an early riser. I wake up around 6am, and the first thing I do is have a cup of coffee on my balcony while listening to music and reading the news. I then take a shower, have a bite to eat and drive my kids to school before heading to work.

The most important morning action that I never skip is to get a real big hug and a big kiss from my kids. While this might sound cliché, it is extremely important to me, and I feel like something is missing if it doesn’t happen.

A work routine that you developed during the pandemic?

I haven’t changed my daily habits or routines. I am aware that many have adapted to the concept of working from home. For me, home is a place that is dedicated to myself and my family, while the office is where I focus on my work. I’m not at all a big fan of merging the two spaces.

A book or podcast you would recommend on mentoring and growth in the workplace?

My favorite poem is Ithaca by CP Cavafy. He skillfully used the account of Odysseus’ return after the Trojan War. I use this poem as a guide to life and work because it shows that people are always trying to achieve a “goal”, but it is actually the journey to reach that goal that is the most important, with all its learnings. , challenges and experiences.

I also like to read The Nameless King: 15 Stories of Leadership From Ancient Greece by Artemios Miropoulos. The author has interestingly translated 15 tales from ancient Greek history into modern corporate leadership behaviors, which I have found fascinating, insightful, and useful. Monday Motivation is a series featuring business leaders and creative people who tell us about the people they admire and their work ethic.

Monday Motivation is a series featuring founders, business leaders, and creative people who tell us about the people they admire and their work ethic.

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