It was a hard nine months here on LAN, or at least they were for me. There were a lot of issues, non-understanding, confusion and simple discouragement including feeling of being lost, and also loosing the road direction
To the point where I was thinking of focusing my efforts to other areas. But as always, I had a talk with Jan, just fee sentences, then with some of you, and little by little I was reminded what I am doing here, and I felt desire to continue with my Share&Care posts, with simple philosophy - if they help a single individual - then it was worth it.
So, this is me, continuing with one thing - Inspiration
I was watching today one old Schwarzenegger's presentation about five things that made him success. And I remember watching this speech when I was younger, I also remember loving every movie with him when I was a kid - he was a real hero - I must have watched "Predator" a hundred times on my VCR, and I followed his movies when they came out, and I want to reflect on five things he mention, adding examples from my own LEGO related life :)
Find you vision
I always had a dream: a huge castle with hundreds of minifigs fighting a big battle, with large tree house in one corner and a huge waterfall in another, 1m tall towers and details everywhere
I also desired to make huge events with thousands of sqr m of creations, but in a way where I can transport, setup, teardown fast
And I dreamed about community - a community of people who are into LEGO, but also a nice, decent people with whom I can have fun and share in all the great AFOL things, as I know sharing makes it better
I grow up in very poor country, big on ton of things, but small on financial standard. And I said: "I want to build large 1m tall castles from LEGO bricks, and towns with a thousand minifigs" but even the smallest LEGO set was too expensive for my family, not just me. I had a father's set and 1978 LEGO catalog (one that you can read on Paper Boot on LUGS UNITED), and in there, a Fabuland city, and castle with ton of minifigs.
So I started collecting LEGO parts from all of my friends, swapping for other toys or accessories, getting more and more until I had a full bucket; then I made a small event, where entrance was one LEGO piece - of any kind, any size, and only if visitor chooses to donate, if the exhibit was good. With those parts I made another event, little bigger, then bigger, then so big I could say "share two LEGO parts - but event is 4 times bigger than last one"
And, however hard setup was in the future, however much time I needed to make something wonderful, extra effort into making that connection or module practical and beautiful - it didn't mater, because I knew what was the goal - giant LEGO exhibit. Then, I didn't use politically correct "exhibit made out of LEGO bricks" :)
I found my passion - building
If you don't have a vision, you are just roaming around with no focus.
"Never ever think small"
I didn't want to make just LEGO exhibit - I wanted to make huge LEGO exhibit, full of colors, monochromatic details, lights, movement, thousands of minifigs. I wanted to have events that would pay for all of my new bricks, maybe make it so I can take a rest from my job one week per month and just build, I wanted to be an icon in building world, what is wrong with that? There is a saying "he who asks for breadcrumbs will get breadcrumbs" There was an event, we wanted to do it, we needed funds for our second LUGS UNITED, and I was the one who took part in negotiations - when they asked for price, I said five times more. They just smiled and said "deal, now to the other things" - it was amazing. None in club saw that much money on a pile - and it was a two weeks endeavor.
Don't think small. If you ask for breadcrumbs, you will get breadcrumbs
"Ignore the Naysayers"
I do agree, it is common and natural that, when you step up with vision, people say "no, it can; be done, it is impossible, at least impossible for you"
I once spent half an hour in large company with the most beautiful person in Serbia, officially. And I talked with her, sitting one to another, and thought, my god, she is so smart and funny and charming. So I went home and told my friends I am in love, with her, and they immediately start neyseying "you are no one, poor, too young, those type of famous persons go out with older and successful people". But I called, setup a date, and it turned out - she wanted someone normal, someone average who was just funny and happy - and I was. We spent two years living together
Regarding LEGO bricks, when I told about my vision, people tend to say "no, it is impossible, nobody can earn for living with bricks, maybe in the big wide world, but not in Serbia! And large scale exhibits, are you crazy? Do you know how much 1kg of bricks is expensive - and you need ton for that kind of event"
"I don't think it can be done. Are you crazy? Go work something normal, you need money for family."
So when I spoke about it, people would laugh, with that sadness in eyes, you know, when you are watching a puppy truing to eat and not fall into a plate, but it keeps falling in, or, Ivan, there is no chance, first, you are crazy, you can't abide any leadership, you are lucky you didn't spend all your army time in prison, because you simply can't follow authority (I can, when my authority are not idiots, I thought), you are too much of choleric, and also, you always fantasies and do things differently, always philosophing, LEGO bricks are about precision, you can't even follow simple LEGO set instruction. You are also imposing, you keep talking about girls and you like to drink and party a lot - these are not the traits of a great business leader!"
Of course, I didn't listen.
I started attracting people who had a similar mindset, and we started hanging together and exhibiting together. I took my "out of the box" thinking to shorten processes and logistics for events, so we had more time for fun, and I built differently, so my stile become internationally recognizable - 10 years ago, if you've seen gigantic red/black castle, you know it was Angeli
So, we made events, for our soul, humanitarian, for souls of little sick kids, we had ton of fun socializing, and, all of sudden, one firm approached us and said: "can you do it for us, for children's day? We will pay you". So we did, and from that money we bought table coverings. Then another firm approached us and we did it again, now buying our displays with lights - and so it went until a government approached us and said "we want to do something good for our kids - do you have ideas" and we started doing project that had budgets that spinned our heads - and also results that kept our souls warm.
And the interesting part came, the director of firm commended us about our structure and logistics, and unified way we moved, and clear leadership of the group The government commended on our innovative way of thinking and smart solutions that were not used before - even in procedures that were not connected to LEGO bricks and events itself.
So all that leadership and choleric traits, and that out of the box thinking that was mentioned as problems and something that would obstacle me and those around me came as assets later
"Work your ass off"
nothing comes just like that, at least not for me. Every date, every grade on faculty, every LEGO related deal - I had to work my behind off for it. But I did, and it was easy - as I had a goal, and I saw possible results of my work. Sometimes deals would go south, and I wouldn't get what I intended - but we did get experience, and betterments, like evolved structure and logistics. For years we have been trying to get Fan Weekend license, and it was always one step away - better logistics, better structure. So we invested, every year, and every year decision would be left for next year, and finally when it was realized we are not material for that license - we were left with ton of investments - and no license. So, someone mentioned we failed. No, we got ton of fun from events, we established a brand out of it, but most important, large, serious companies started approaching us to organize the same for them. Event managing become the main source of income for club, and many members found jobs in those companies working event managing full time. So work your ass off - work always get rewarded, always. At the end, we realized Fan Weekend was just a name, and if prestige of having it is not important to us - then we have everything else - social part that goes with it, everything except support. But when you have large incomes - you can buy your own support, and you are not depending on anyone. So, for last LU, we bought reward for making (awesome:) event for ourselves - and we bought what we liked, and in amounts we liked. When you are independent, you don't need to do things you don't desire to do - and to become that independent - work your ass off, because, the worst thing is to fail because you didn't work hard enough, and you had a chance. Trust me, been there :)
Every day I manage club maters, I build for at least couple of hours, at least once per day I have a meeting regarding LEGO related stuff, I exercise and I manage my own (non-LEGO related) firm. I have a big white board in Studio where each column is a project, with papers on magnets - at every time, in last two years, there are at least five projects at the board - at this moment, there is Zagreb, Bank, Warsaw, Romania and Waterfront and a sixed one, called "mix" with one paper per thingy :)
So, work your ass off if you want results. There is no other way - maybe you will get lucky once or twice or five times, but we get lucky all the time as result of our work - because luck is a concept that you can't rely on - hard work is.
"Don't just take, give something back"
We started small. Then TLG came and said "come, become part of a fast growing global community" so we did. After some time TLG said, "you know, we have support for your events". So we got few bricks and sets for event. With those we made bigger, got more support, then bigger, got more support and it never ended (actually, it slowed down last year, but still, by that time we were not dependent regarding growth on support). Today, we have enough funds to buy any amount of bricks and sets we need, but we didn't forget how we started, and how hard it was, and how much harder it would have been if there wasn't for TLG's support in those early days - LEGO is expensive toy, at least it was for us. Not anymore, no. Now, we are rolling - we needed to start rolling somehow.
So, we decided to give some back. It is usual for us to give our bricks and minifigs from our dioramas on events to visitors, it is a pleasure, but personal. So we decided to offer all of our assets to every club that needed them. And clubs use, silently, like they are ashamed, so we respect, we don't talk about it, but it will change, people will step up and note help Beokocka made. I don't think there is a club in region whose at least some members didn't get present from us in some point of time - giving some back makes one happy, content, fulfilled.
Then we started with socially responsible actions, continuing humanitarian, but adding out of borders actions (out of continent actions, with Africa), adding educational and ecological actions - and we noticed, we can make a change. No matter how small, make one child happy, take one plastic bottle from riverbank and put it in trash - you did it. There are 2 millions of us in Belgrade - meaning, potentially 2 millions of smiling children and 2 millions of plastic bottles or waste out of our streets and rivers.
It will affect you to. In our community, we have former criminals, former porn industry actress, former angry people, former lost and lonely people, people who had prejudice on many things, and people who simply wanted to see world burning, but just saving one life with our humanitarian event, like we did in 2013 with small Andjela Jankovic, changed all of us involved for ever - that feeling of bliss, of fulfillment, we look at each other and we know - those bonds last for life, and your past do not have to mark you, if you are working to do something better - this is so much easier within caring community.
so, "have a vision, think big, ignore the naysayers, work your ass off and give something back and change the world" is quote that I agree so much with, and I hope mine and success of community I here represent will be inspiration
There is one more thing I would like to add:
"Try to have fun with all you do"
for us, as community, having fun is the ultimate goal. We need bricks to build as this makes joy for us. We need money for parties, for sea house, for transport for road trips as these things makes fun for us, or our lives easier - and then more time and strength for fun
So everything we do, we do it if it helps our goal - if we can choose, we choose things that bring us fun
All of you who were happy enough to visit us, you know what I am talking about - having fun is something all our actions are focused on, and you could say, it is the ultimate goal, having fun, while doing something constructive, or important
"have a vision, think big, ignore the naysayers, work your ass off and give something back, change the world" and have fun while doing it :)
I can tell you, having financial stability, traveling around the world with friends, having a whole network of new friends, doing what you like when you feel like it most of the times, inspiring and helping and contributing socially, feeling good about yourself, about your pack, about what you do, how you do it and why you do it - this are great nus-products of this way of thinking
I hope this text will inspire :)
Great building, and see you soon ;)