If there is somebody I can identify as a mentor in the past few years that would be Georgi Malchev. He has always been a great example with his attitude and actions. He has always supported all of my ideas and causes – and at times he believed in me more than I did 🙂 I am very happy that I get to tell his story in my blog.
Tell us a bit more about yourself and the dream you are chasing.
I’m the managing partner of one of the largest digital marketing agencies in the CEE region. I also teach at four universities, specializing in areas such as digital marketing, content marketing, social media marketing, and the credibility of advertising. On a personal note, I’m a father of two boys. The older one is just embarking on his dream of studying AI at Harvard.
My dream is closely intertwined with my personal identity—I identify as a Consul (assertive ESFJ), according to the 16 Personalities framework. This personality type drives me to prioritize making the world a better place across various dimensions. Moreover, as a typical Consul, I firmly believe in taking personal responsibility for effecting positive change. The onus is on us to make that difference, and I wholeheartedly embrace that philosophy. Above all, I’m driven by the notion that there’s always room to invest more effort and achieve better results.
This ethos has led me to adopt a personal motto: ‘Lead by example.’ I’m committed to embodying this principle in multiple aspects of my life. It’s a pursuit that I’m passionate about and continually dedicated to, regardless of challenges like the ongoing pandemic, the availability of educational resources, or shifts in business opportunities. I derive satisfaction from this ongoing journey.
If I were to articulate my ultimate dream, it would be to establish a preeminent digital marketing agency within our region. What began as a grassroots effort at Xplora has blossomed into a team of over 70 professionals. Presently, we collaborate with more than 120 multinational and local brands in Bulgaria, the broader region, and on a global scale. But my dream wasn’t solely about the agency itself; it centered on fostering a unique company culture that I call ‘human digital’. From its inception, Xplora was conceived as an integrated digital marketing agency with a human touch—to engage authentically with real people, cultivate a supportive environment for the team, and nurture personal and cordial relationships with our clients. Witnessing this dream materialize into reality brings me immense fulfillment. People are drawn to, committed to, and enthusiastic about Xplora due to its distinctive culture. I’m humbled to say that, based on various sources, we’ve become a positive role model for many other agencies and professionals within the industry. By doing so, we’re actively contributing to a positive change within an industry that’s often synonymous with stress, imbalanced work-life dynamics, and sometimes cutthroat competition.
How was the idea for your dream born and how did it develop over time?
The genesis of my dream took root long before Xplora came into existence. My journey encompassed various roles in management consulting, corporate finance, and even within state administration as both an expert and a director. I also held positions as a director and board member in service-oriented companies. A pivotal juncture was my partnership with a digital marketing agency, which eventually led to a parting of ways due to divergent values and conflicting visions for our company culture.
Within me, the vision of a place like Xplora began to flourish—a place where the essence of company culture thrives organically, evident both from within and to the outside world. This vision found resonance with two former colleagues of mine, Ivan and Alexander. The three of us had firsthand encounters with the less favorable aspects of the agency landscape and the corporate realm, while also being inspired by a handful of commendable examples.
The fact that my professional trajectory had been firmly entrenched in the realm of marketing proved invaluable for this pursuit.
What are your plans for the future? What do I wish to achieve in the next 5 years?
My aspirations for the future are well-defined, although the timelines for their realization aren’t etched in stone. At present, there are three primary objectives that I am focused on. Firstly, I am determined to expand the agency’s footprint and elevate it to the status of a renowned and highly recommended European agency. Secondly, I am in the process of crafting a book centered on digital marketing, a project that is deeply significant to me. Having already contributed the afterword to several marketing books, this endeavor holds a special place in my heart. And last but certainly not least, I am committed to completing my PhD studies within the realm of marketing. While these goals are resolute, I remain open to the dynamic nature of timeframes as I work toward achieving them.
What are the most important lessons you learned along the way so far?
I maintain a personal blog called ‘malchev.net’ (primarily in Bulgarian, though Google Translate has certainly bridged language barriers – you can also find a translated version of the blog in English here). It’s a platform where I share the most pivotal lessons that I’ve gathered throughout my journey. Interestingly, the blog garnered quite a commendation—it was voted the People’s Choice in the annual contest for personal blogs in Bulgaria.
Among the numerous insights I’ve gleaned, I’ve distilled a set of principles that have emerged as bedrocks, fortified by practical experience. These principles, I believe, are unlikely to waver unless an overwhelming trove of contradictory evidence materializes, which hasn’t occurred over the past decade. While I remain receptive to new perspectives, I hold firm that these principles endure. Here is a selection of these guiding principles:
- Lead by example: A principle I’m dedicated to and that I prioritize in all aspects of my life.
- Consistency trumps all: The steadfast application of effort and dedication yields unparalleled results.
- Extreme ownership: Embracing complete responsibility for one’s actions fosters growth and accountability.
Drawing a bridge to my dream, Xplora, and my commitment to the realm of marketing, certain lessons have surfaced as particularly significant. First and foremost, the imperative of understanding one’s audience. Recognizing that not everyone will align with your message and value proposition is crucial; while other individuals will fall in love with your offering. Second – people will self-segment themselves if they make proper planning and conduct the proper communications.
What would you say are the three principles or qualities that can help a person make their dreams come true?
In my perspective, there are three guiding principles or qualities that stand paramount in materializing one’s dreams. These very principles I’ve outlined in my blog are: leading by example, embracing extreme ownership, and fostering teamwork. It’s important to note that a principle is most potent when rooted in personal experiences, substantiated by a congruence of evidence showcasing its applicability.
What inspires and motivates you when times are difficult?
The fact that I shall and I will take extreme ownership.
What would you say to the people who are still hesitant to chase their dreams?
You already have dreams. My profile is not to have goals that are fixed in stone or strict plans. So my advice is – to have a dream that is aligned with your values and with what comes naturally to you. This choice not only imparts greater meaning to your journey but also renders it a source of genuine joy and fulfillment.