AIESEC interviews The Viennese Girl

We sat down with one of Vienna’s most renowned bloggers and had a nice chat about the face behind ‘The Viennese Girl’, her love for Vienna and Wanderlust.

AIESEC: First of all, thank you for taking the time to do this interview with us.

The Viennese Girl: Thank you for inviting me!

A: I’ve personally been following your blog now and I’m really interested in the topics you write about, especially when it comes to the tips and details about Vienna and the stories about your travels.

TVG: That was actually a surprise for me, because I didn’t expect that people would like that so much and it’s such a rewarding feeling to see how much my followers value my stories.

A: Before we start talking about traveling and your various adventures in the world, let me ask you first: Who is ‘The Viennese Girl’ or who’s behind ‘The Viennese Girl’?

TVG: My name is Sillia and I come from Athens, Greece. I’m studying at the University of Vienna and I’ve been living here for almost 4 years now.

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A: So, tell me where the name ‘The Viennese Girl’ comes from then?

TVG: The day I made the website I was thinking about different names. Of course, I thought about a lot of options but then I thought that making a new website is like bringing a new person to the world that’s why I decided to call it ‘The Viennese Girl’ and since I don’t have any children yet, so it was like a baby for me. It’s also a very catchy and easy name to remember which is always important!

A: So you don’t actually see yourself as ‘The Viennese Girl’?

TVG: No, I see it more as my child!

A: So describe to us how you see her. What’s ‘The Viennese Girl’ like?

TVG: She’s an international girl and she was born in Vienna, of course! She wants to travel a lot and discover new places everyday.

A: So actually you, Sillia, and ‘The Viennese Girl’ have a lot in common then?

TVG: Well of course, it is my child after all! And I want to see her grow and become successful.

A: As you mentioned before you’re originally from Greece. How did you actually end up in Vienna?

TVG: I was actually feeling a bit down in Greece for personal reasons and I wanted to escape from everything. I had a job, a home, a car, so I was settled down but I still wanted to leave everything behind me. I also wanted to improve my German language knowledge. In the beginning I planned to stay in Vienna for 3 months only, but then I decided to stay longer and didn’t take my flight back to Greece.

A: You’ve been living here for 4 years now and running a successful blog. It’s clear how much you love Vienna. Could you tell us 3 things you love the most about this city?

TVG: The first thing I have to mention is the transportation system, because it simply brings you everywhere, easy, quick & safe! It also works on weekends for those who want to go out after midnight. And compared to the system we had in Athens it is much more reliable.

The second thing I love here is the university. I like that it’s easy for someone from another European country to subscribe! And I appreciate that they give you this chance & then it’s up to you, whether you manage your studies or not.

The 3rd thing I love about Vienna is that it’s in the center of Europe, which means that you can of course travel a lot. You can go to Prague, Budapest, Bratislava, Switzerland, Venice or Munich. We’re in the middle of Europe and you can always escape for a weekend trip.

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A: I’d like to ask you more about the blog itself now. You have two main points or topics there. I’d like to talk about ‘Wanderlust’ first. What does this word mean to you? Why is it the 1st headline you have?

TVG: Wanderlust is the love for traveling and discovering new places and cultures. I cannot imagine myself without traveling. I remember that every time I’m about to travel somewhere I become very happy. I also want to motivate other people to travel as much as they can. Similar to what you do with your internships, because it’s important to make it easy for young people to travel.

A: What made you fall in love with traveling?

TVG: It’s an escape from the routine. From the daily life, which is sometimes a little bit boring. All in all, it just makes you happier.

A: Do you think traveling changed you as a person?

TVG: Of course, it changes you. Because once you’re in a foreign country, you need to find a way to survive. You have to become more responsible, because sometimes you’re on your own.

A: So, do you think you would have gone on an AIESEC internship if you found out about it before?

TVG: I would certainly do it, but I don’t know where I would have gone. Do you offer anything in Paris?

A: Most people try to go somewhere far away from Vienna.

TVG: Then I’d probably go to Brazil and maybe volunteer as a blogger there.

A: Your second main topic in your blog is ‘Dear Vienna’. It’s a very catchy name, but what is it about exactly?

TVG: ‘Dear Vienna’ is more of a guide not only for tourists, but also for locals who want to see Vienna through my eyes. I got a lot of e-mails and encouragements telling me to keep discovering new places, so I kept exploring.

A: As you might know, we don’t only send people abroad but we also offer AIESEC internships here in Vienna, so we have a lot of international interns from all over the world. What piece of advice would you give the ones that just arrived in Vienna?

TVG: Well…Just check my blog! And of course just go out and explore the city!

A: We talked before about how much you love traveling. Can you maybe tell me about the trip that changed you the most?

TVG: I think the first trip that I’ve done changed me a lot. I was 18 and I went to the Netherlands because I had a pen pal from this beautiful country. She invited me to stay with her and I went with my mom, because my mom was a little afraid for me to go alone. But she went back to Greece as soon as she made sure they were nice people, she didn’t stay as long as I did. And I stayed with the family the entire time I was there.

A: What did you learn out of it?

TVG: What I learned is that I have to travel more. It will help me to grow as a personality and that staying in the same city or country doesn’t challenge you enough.
There is a nice quote that says: “The world is a book & those who don’t travel read only one page.”

A: Well, that sums it up! So, where is the ‘The Viennese Girl’ going next?

TVG: To Paris!

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A: So we can expect new pictures on your blog soon then! You’ve been to a lot of places but what is the one place you haven’t been to before that you would like to visit soon?

TVG: I’d love to go to Bali. It just looks so exotic and appealing & I imagine it will be wonderful to go there.

A: Let me ask you now about AIESEC. Have you heard of us before we contacted you?

TVG: Yes, I had a flat mate who went on an internship with AIESEC. And I remember how she talked about it a lot and the people she met.

A: How do you think such an internship where you leave your comfort zone can change a person? Imagine a 20-year-old girl from Vienna doing a social internship in Perú. How do you think this experience would impact her?

TVG: It’s exactly what we talked about till now. She’s going to find herself in a very different situation. She has to get along with a different culture and maybe get over this culture shock.

For example, from the countries I visited Cairo was very different from Europe.

There was a lot of poverty and it helped me become more sensitive. And that it’s not only your country, your bubble but there are also other countries, other people that are not living so comfortable or luxurious as we are. Maybe then you start thinking about what you can do for the less fortunate and that’s very important.

There are two types of people: Some just travel, live their experience and go back.

And the others they throw themselves in the situation and become more aware of other cultures and also go back as different people.

A: We have a final question for you. If you would motivate people to travel, what would you tell them the main reason to travel is?

TVG: That first of all, you change your life, you change yourself and it changes the way you think! So to sum it up: to change, to grow, to learn and to become a better person.

A: Thank you so much again from our side for this lovely chat and we wish you an amazing trip to Paris.

TVG: Thank you so much for inviting me and enjoy your holidays!

All photos by Tony GigovInterview by Mohamed Kassem

The Value of Accelerated Leaders – AIESEC interviews Scott Morrison

Last year we’ve had the pleasure of attending Marketing Rockstars Festival in Graz, where we met one of the speakers – Scott Morrison, former Marketing & Commercial Director, DIESEL and Founder at “The Business Accelerator”. We were blown away by his keynote on leadership and particularly the concept of accelerator leadership and wanting to find out more, we interviewed him. Enjoy the read!

  • First of all, thank you so much for agreeing to have an interview with us. Have you heard about AIESEC before we met in Graz?

My pleasure. To be totally honest, I hadn’t heard of the organisation before I had the pleasure of meeting you at the conference. Subsequent to that, I’ve learnt a lot about AIESEC and think it does some wonderful work with young people, empowering them to be leaders and take control of their futures. 

  • As an organisation that fosters youth leadership, your speech about it at Marketing Rockstars festival definitely caught our attention. How would you define leadership?

Leadership to me is something incredibly powerful …something that creates and brings magic to the everyday. I define great leaders as people who ignite a passion and energy in people to doincredible things that they never believed possible.

  • At M.R, you talked about accelerated leaders. What exactly differentiates an accelerated leader from lets say an ordinary one?

Ordinary leaders take all of the traits, skills and values of leadership and become competent at them. They get the job done and there are lots of them out there. Some businesses need this kind of leader as they are happy to plough the same furrow over long periods of time – they don’t want to challenge the status quo and like things where they are. There’s nothing wrong with this, per se – however, great leaders quickly want to move on from these businesses to further their challenges and career experience.

Great leaders take all of the above and are able to apply it in such a way that they ignite the passion and energy of their people to do incredible things that they never believed possible. They create the bedrock of everyday magic.

Accelerated leaders embrace both of those behaviours and add the ability to create positive disruption in their organisation – they lead their people and their organisation through the chaos that is the modern world of business; they empower their teams to sense, adapt and respond to the disruption that’s happening in their market and create an environment where people are inherently motivated to achieve great things right through the chain. They create leaders within their organisations recognising that a coaching mentality coupled with the power of building an empowering culture is the way that succession planning in business happens. They believe wholeheartedly that culture eats strategy for breakfast!

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  • People often perceive disruption as something negative. But you define it not only as something positive, but something great. What do you believe makes disruptionpositive?

My life experiences taught me that being different could be viewed one of 2 ways – you could use it as a detachment mechanism – feel like a victim and continually use it as a reason for your failure or underachievement. Or, you could reframe it, flip it and make it an powerful force for achievement. Being different allows you to experiment, to be unconventional, to embrace failure and see the success it brings. Disruption works the same way. If you use it as a force for bad, it alienates, divides and ultimately destroys. Use it as a force for good and it generates energy, movement and a following. That’s how you get things done in an organisation: generate an unstoppable force for good that engages and empowers people to perform at the best they can. Positive disruptionchallenges the inertia in organisations and gains traction, movement and acceleration.

  • One of my favorite parts of your speech was the 6 easy steps to success: Constant reframing, Radical collaboration, Embracing conflict, Always open, always on, Thrive on chaos, Extreme empowerment. Why are those steps the most important to you? And why C.R.E.A.T.E?

These steps are key to the success of an Accelerated Leader because they are some of the things that most challenge the inertia in businesses, organisations and consumers. They are the things that ordinary leaders avoid because they are threatening or challenge their own perceptions of what they need to feel like as leaders. For example, some people find it hard to relinquish authority and empower their teams as it’s not their view of leadership. However, it is critical that you are always building leaders all the way through the organisation not just at the top. That’s why extreme empowerment is important.

They are all distilled from my experiences of working with some of the world’s greatest brands and leaders in those businesses. I have tried and tested all of them and that’s why I can say that they truly work to accelerate leaders and in turn businesses.

C.R.E.A.T.E was a suitable acronym that spelled out a simple statement – Accelerated Leaders C.R.E.A.T.E positive disruption to accelerate businesses.

I coach leaders on ways to bring this model to their teams so that they can accelerate they businesses.

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  • At the festival where we had more than 35 speakers, you were perhaps the only one to have had leadership as the core of your speech. Why do you believe this topic is important? What is your opinion about young leaders in Austria?

In a world where too many leaders abdicate their responsibilities and the role models of leadership for young people are changing beyond recognition, it’s about time that we all had broader discussions about what leadership means today. We need to ensure that there’s a clear understanding of what leadership looks like from all angles. There’s nothing to say that someone with vast experience is any better a leader than a 16 year old college student who has set up their own business. We can all learn from each other especially with the growth of tech, start-ups and revitalised entrepreneurialism in the next generations. When I mentor, I ask my menthes to critique some work that I have done too so that I can garner their perspective – we need to do this more with young people so that they feel valued as leaders. 

  • How do you think AIESEC can help nurture the mindset of accelerated leadershipamongst the Austrian youth?

 Young leaders all over the world need organisations like AIESEC to help them shape their experiences to become the best leaders they can be.

The beauty of the Accelerated Leader model is that it can be applied at any level, in any organisation and with any age group. If people embrace this thinking now then, as they progress right the way to the top of organisations, they will have a mindset that enables them to build a powerful culture below them where people are inspired to be part of an organisation that differs from lots of others out there.

I hope AIESEC can see the benefit of this thinking and find a way to use it to nurture the young people who they’re working with.

  • You are an inspiration to many people. But what is something that inspires you to do what you do every day; your inner drive?

I read a wonderful book called ‘The Last Shamen’ which encourages you to look deep into who you are and find what your purpose is, what your ‘greatness’ is. What is the one thing that you have been put onto the Earth to do. When I did it for myself, I found out that I should be a Guide – someone who shows people the right way to go.

It was such a powerful message for me and is the thing that drives me every day to be the best that I can be. When you are a Guide, there’s a lot of responsibility to engage with, absorb and share knowledge and to channel it to those who need it most. 

  • What would you say was the biggest learning point in your career that pushed you to go in this direction?

As I said, when you recognise what it is that you really feel compelled to do, there isn’t anyone or anything that can stop you. All of my previous roles were the education for me to be able to do what I love doing even more now. The other thing that really vindicated my decision was practising Street Wisdom which is a mindfulness exercise where you use the street to find answers to questions you have. When I did it, it cemented lots of things that I had already been thinking about and I have now become an ambassador for the movement. I incorporate it into my leadership coaching and people come away with a learning experience that helps reframe a problem they had previously been facing.

  • What would be your message to young people striving to succeed in todays world and become leaders who positively influence our society?

Become Accelerated Leaders – don’t accept anything less because if you learn from bad leaders you inherently pick up skills that you will want to shake off later in your career.

Envision a future where you are an Accelerated Leader, feel it, see it and believe it and you will become one.