Exclusive Interview of Danijel Koletić of Apriori World. Edited by Powered Magazine
Danijel Koletić is a seasoned data strategist and analytics expert dedicated to unlocking the power of data for businesses worldwide. With a proven track record of driving impactful outcomes, Danijel has earned a reputation as a trusted advisor and thought leader in the field of data-driven decision-making. In this exclusive interview with Powered Magazine, we have the privilege of delving into the world of Danijel Koletić. From his early inspirations and career journey to his thoughts on the future of data analytics, we gain valuable insights into the mind of a visionary leader who continues to shape the industry.
Tell us about yourself and your business.
Each individual has his own mission. Sometimes it is a real mystery, and the real mystery is the path of life. I, Danijel Koletić, started my career very early, at the age of 22, as the executive producer of the Eurovision winner composer Rajko Dujmi, and by the age of 27, thanks to blessing and vision, but also courage, I had signed various national events in Croatia as a director. I was also the director of the Ford Super Model Croatia competition, Croatian Gol Championship, WTA Lady's Open 17500, and the 37th Split festival; I was a producer of the award-winning children's show Turbolimac Show; editor and host of the Sunday lunch show; I participated in the launch of today's most famous women's magazine Gloria and of the weekly Nacional; and with all that, I didn't even know I was dealing with public relations. Throughout my career, as things changed, I upgraded my life path from event management to public relations, brand management, and crisis management. More than 150 projects. Today I deal with strategic consulting under the motto less is more.
What were your biggest challenges when starting your business?
In the area of the Balkans, there were very few offices that knew what public relations were. In 1996/1997, I visited 237 companies, both public and private, in order to present public relations, and they were just being born then. The biggest challenge was to explain to people because for a couple of years, partly because of the unknown, partly because of ignorance, they thought it was "selling fog", I was lucky that in 2000, I became the director of the London School of Public Relations of the franchise program for the Republic of Croatia, which replaced the gap in academic opportunities to study public relations for a few years, and today, after 25 years, many leaders still do not understand the role and mission of public relations, which in the beginning was, and still is, the role of management, it was said that is the one in the function of relations with the media. Today, thanks to the new order of the media scene, and new rules, all agencies that deal with public relations have different procedures and approaches towards media whose native articles are paid for. From 1996-2018, it was possible to rent your story, but the ratio of media creativity in terms of editorial content was 80% compared to paid native stories, and today it has decreased, I would say to 60%. Politics, sports, international topics, and some interesting things or disasters fill the editorial content, while the rest, due to the endless possibilities of publication on portals in various sections, come to countless possibilities for different topics and publications.
How have you handled success and failure over the course of your career?
One who has not experienced failure, which happens at the beginning of a career, cannot appreciate success enough. We all learn from mistakes. I was lucky that my business mistakes were more related to believing the wrong people than project failures towards clients. Image is not bought; image is created, and you have to give more than expected and be very creative regardless of whether you work in finance, construction, medicine, advertising, or strategic consulting. Creativity and narrative are two of the keys to success with people.
What strategies do you use to stay competitive in a changing market?
I have always been innovative and one step ahead of others. I am guided by the fact that I must always give advice to the client that will provide him with a business strategy that will create profit. Of course, if we're talking about crisis communication, it's different because, in that case, you have to neutralise and preserve someone's reputation as soon as possible. Austrian company Pfanner Juices, German baby food manufacturer Hipp Porridge for Children, Telemach, a telecommunications company in Serbia, Bayer, a pharmaceutical company in BiH, and many other cases of crisis management represent a business challenge. There is no recipe for this situation; it is necessary to give a strategic direction today, now, and immediately. Whether it's a crisis or not, the creativity of strategic consulting as well as tactics are crucial to remaining competitive. I had the opportunity to change two laws in the Republic of Croatia, and I am currently participating in the third. Regardless of public affairs, one word changes everything, and in this situation, you need to have teams of legal associates who will translate your creativity into legal possibilities. For those who have never done it and do not know, it is a process that requires time and patience.
What motivations drive you to keep pushing forward in the face of adversity?
My biggest motivation is my ambition to succeed. On the one hand, and on the other hand, through the PRO PR conference, I connect senior experts and public relations leaders from the region. You have to understand that the salaries of public relations employees from the Republic of Slovenia to North Macedonia, as well as their status in the eyes of the market and management, are different. We always talk about the importance of volunteering, whether through the motto ''Share the knowledge, Share the experience'', whether through reading books in a home for the elderly, or in some other way. Life passes quickly, and then the key question is what we take with us and what we leave for the soul. Money in life comes and goes; we invest, we spend it, and we fear for our old age. Different countries and their social systems create our personalities, habits of business, life, and behaviour. Life has no rules, but we must love it and be grateful for it. Croatia was part of the war conflicts when they attacked it and stole the territory of a neighbouring country. Today we do business with these neighbouring countries, and new marriages are born, but traces remain. I was at the tram station, waiting for the tram, when a man was killed by a sniper next to me. I'm lucky that I don't carry that trauma but only a memory; ordinary people, in most cases, are just a number of individuals, regimes, and politicians. That's why you have to focus on the things you can change. Always do your best, never give up, and constantly believe in yourself while respecting others.
What advice would you give to someone just starting out in their chosen field?
Opportunities and competitiveness. First of all, I would advise them to volunteer and look for mentors in the business sense, to watch what they eat, and to acquire as many skills as possible by the age of 27 in order to be competitive. Focus on a certain area of activity will give success. At the age of 26, I had 38 employees, I realized that it was not for me, so I sold the agency and decided to live by the motto less is more. Everything has its advantages and disadvantages, but what counts is experience, so the most important thing is to be patient. You can expect money if you have 10 years of work experience, the crypto world has changed opportunities, startup strategies have created a new mindset of entrepreneurship, and young people have more opportunities than ever, but the main advice is: success requires sacrifice in younger days and good time management.
How have technological advances affected the way you conduct business or operate your venture?
The main topic on the planet after fake news today is chat, GPT, and AI. At this moment, this represents opportunities for many people because different generations and different positions give different opportunities, but the question is whether someone at the age of 55 is ready to learn again. We learn while we live, and learning creates competitiveness. I try to be informed, but I don't try to be the best at everything. In order to be successful, you must surround yourself with people who will cover your shortcomings and be complementary. New technologies, like everything else, have positive and negative effects. However, neither artificial intelligence nor Chat GPT will dominate, at least for the next 30 years. Let's not forget the technology behind cloning the first sheep Dolly, it was a great scientific success and trend, but we don't see mass production of cloning, at least not for now. Maybe it will happen due to a lack of food. People can only do more together. Everything on this planet has its reasons, including wars, because weapons have to be taken out of storage. We are all part of the ecosystem, but only some create, some follow, and some state. Be prepared to learn and change your own habits if you want to stay in business.
In what ways has customer feedback or response influenced how you prioritise goals or objectives for your business or venture?
I never allow myself to do business with a client, and after analysing the situation, he says in which direction to go. My role is to guide the client in accordance with his capabilities. There are no big or small clients. During my career, I have periodically worked with family companies that own hotels, bakeries, and clinics. They are different from corporations; they all have one goal, which is to make a profit. You and the client represent one team because common goals are set. If you clarify this at the beginning with the client, ask the right questions, listen well, and give a reasonable timeline for implementation, then there will be no doubts. I always emphasise to clients that we are on the same side—one team, one success. The involvement of different experts with different views and transparency in communication is the only way you can achieve your goals.
What trends do you see emerging in your industry that are likely to shape its future growth and development?
The new generations are too comfortable; most of their lives are reduced to looking at a cell phone screen, and their motor skills are dulled. Logic, connection, and artificial intelligence will certainly provide numerous solutions and facilitate business guidelines in different areas, but unfortunately, they will also reduce the creativity of the human mind. Despite artificial intelligence, humans will remain the key to success. The main trends will be a reduction in the number of employees in the IT industry and an increase in the number of employees in the cybersecurity industry. Despite the creativity of artificial intelligence, only those with more skills, which means logical connections, will be able to survive thanks to their competitiveness and will be more in demand. Food production is a sure source of income. Unfortunately, most young people today do not want to engage in agriculture; at least that's how it is here in SE Europe. In the consulting industry, despite the fact that artificial intelligence can provide some guidance, it will not have all the parameters to provide a final and true path to success. It can give some general guidance, but it is not what will lead you to success.
What have been the most rewarding and difficult aspects of your chosen career or business path?
The most difficult was certainly the beginning. I came from a small tourist town with one suitcase and 150 dollars. I rented my room, and I started as a waiter working on the side. The rest is history, I would say, because as a waiter, I came from the road to the newsroom of a tabloid and asked them to give me two pages for the organisation of a humanitarian concert. That was in 1991, when already more than 36 children were left without both parents, and on January 15, 1992, thanks to donations, around 400,000 dollars were collected in one night. Of course, my status and my life have changed since then, but my financial situation has not changed too much because Croatia was at war and my income was not great. I worked for experience more than for large sums of money. The money came by itself because there were many requests for cooperation with me, the number of people I cooperated with expanded, and the agency grew. More people, more expenses, more work, and fewer opportunities for free time That's why, as I already mentioned, I decided to sell the agency. Time is the only resource that we cannot get back, and that's why I repeat that time management is very important. Don't let time pass you by, like life. Enjoying the little things works wonders.
Are there any skills or areas of expertise that you think are essential for success in your field?
In my field, the most important thing is transparency. You have to talk transparently with your team, with your closest colleagues, with your clients, and in your private life. For someone, success is having millions of dollars in their account. For someone with a harmonious family and a sincere friend, you need to constantly invest, try to be in places where special people gather, have the courage to approach people, talk to people, and work on yourself. We have a reading crisis today. Our brain has accelerated absorption due to social networks on mobile phones, but the capacity to focus has decreased. I want to be among the best who provide strategic advice in the fields of reputation management, positioning, and business development.
How has working remotely or online impacted your business or venture over the past year?
I was surprised because I got the job with Harvard Medical School Postgraduate Medical Education and the job about law changes during the first days of COVID-19, before the pandemic. In 2018, from September until January, I was on the road every week to Frankfurt, Doha, London, Istanbul, Sarajevo, Madrid... The pandemic brought something wonderful to business, which is the possibility of online meetings and more. It created new workers and new job opportunities.
What tips would you like to offer to others who are in a similar position to you but looking to take their careers or businesses further?
Clearly specify what you know and what you don't know; define what you want; and, above all, what you like to do. If you're doing something you don't like, it's never too late to change. I believe you can do anything just like me; it's just a matter of focus, desire, and will. If you see that the client does not understand what you are talking about and that he is not ready to follow your advice, you are not working for money because you are investing yourself in the work, and it has no price.
Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers that we haven’t already discussed?
Believe in young people, accept the changes of the new social order, don't go back too far in the past, think when you give advice on business opportunities, be yourself, respect others, don't allow yourself to live other people's lives, and don't comment on other people and their life situations based on gossip and articles from the media or the portal if you have not met these people. Manage your time and allow yourself to appreciate yourself; put your ego aside; and don't forget that all this is fleeting. As we came to this planet, so we will leave filled with kindness, knowing that thanks to your work, you provided professional support to your team and improved the businesses of many.