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The system or you: how to reclaim your inner power with Ilinca Paun

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On the next stop in Bucharest, The Recursive podcast welcomes Ilinca Paun. She is a person who knows the price of taking big risks to chase the freedom and the excitement of the unknown. 

At the top of the corporate ladder as the manager of Colliers in Romania, she quit her job as an expert in the real estate business to become an explorer. 

She co-founded The Entrepreneurship Academy and became a teacher there, advising young people on their entrepreneurial journey, but also learning from them. 

Currently Ilinca Paun serves as the managing partner at Impact Hub Bucharest

In a very personal conversation with Irina, Ilinca shares how she landed a corporate job, even though she studied for an architect. 

“I was too much in the search of fame and glory back then. The corporate world could cover training, education and higher salary. It was a golden ticket and I took it”, she reflects. 

18 long and intensive years followed. During 8 of them she was the CEO of Colliers Romania. She took over the management of the company after the real estate crash in 2010. The business was struggling, people were fighting, and she decided it was a good moment for a rebirth and rebuilding of the company culture. 

She reflects on her role as a manager. Being a confident leader and a good salesperson, behaving well under pressure was not enough. 

“Looking back, I was ego-driven and narcissistic. I was completely oblivious to how to communicate with people. You should have much more substance, much more competence, when it comes to understanding people around you. Being adaptable, flexible about how to take decisions taking into account their needs and their ideas”, she talks about her lessons learned. 

Ilinca is very honest about the personal toll she paid climbing up the corporate ladder and surviving in a very competitive environment. 

“It felt dehumanizing, because competition meant hating people, and it made me very lonely. I couldn’t properly connect with my family, because I had to fight this fight that was not mine”, she shares. 

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So, she left the corporate world and co-founded The Entrepreneurship academy, a place where she started rebuilding her freedom and her sense of self. And where she also got used to a new approach to business. 

“My students at The Entrepreneurship Academy don’t try to steal clients from others. Their competition is with themselves – how can I serve my clients better”, Ilinca explains.  

In the episode, Ilinca also reflects on the culture in Eastern Europe, which shames mistakes because people are taught not to talk about it. 

There is a fine line between true self-confidence and a fake sense of holding the truth, Ilinca believes: “I was very afraid to say the words: “I don’t know”. Underneath our arrogance of knowing is our fear. Our fear of not being noticed, valuable or impactful.”

Watch the previous episode and find out why the co-founder of Social Innovation Solutions Ciprian Stanescu believes our region has yet to find its clear and strong entrepreneurial identity.

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