Today we share with you the little secrets of the great masters. We recently had a great interview with Teodora Delić, a graduate special education teacher and addiction therapist. We touched on many topics, and we hope you enjoy reading as much as we enjoyed talking.
What motivated you to start your own business, and why exactly the topic you are dealing with?
I received my formal education at the Faculty of Medicine in Novi Sad, at the Department of Special Rehabilitation and Education, Department of Addictive Diseases. I entered and finished my university out of love, and after my studies, my idea was to focus on working in therapeutic communities for the rehabilitation of addicts. Life took me in a different direction, but that desire never stopped smoldering inside me. In the meantime, when I was about 25 years old, after various life (un)opportunities, I realized that I had brought my health (physically, mentally, emotionally) to the brink of collapse – I was overweight, I was eating too much, I was eating large amounts of sweets and unhealthy food, been physically inactive for years… In short, I had a very unhealthy lifestyle and I made the decision to change it. When I embarked on the process of body transformation, I realized that I was addicted to sweets and it just clicked one day ” man, it’s your profession, let’s take care of yourself from that angle “. So I became an experiment for myself, started applying the knowledge I had and finally managed to free myself from the shackles of food and sugar addiction. I lost 20 kg, stopped overeating, successfully maintained a new lifestyle and completely naively, with the best intention to help others with a similar problem (because I saw that the previous programs did not address the essence of the problem) started the page Leave the sugar on Instagram, which in a short period of time found a lot of support from followers – that’s how this story started. Practically, the subject chose me, not me her.
Besides, the idea of a “secure job” never particularly excited me, I couldn’t imagine myself living according to that pattern of work from 9 am to 5 pm, even while I was working at school I had enough flexibility not to go to school every day. the same time to work and I don’t come back at the same time. Nevertheless, freedom is my main value in life, so I much prefer to create my own rules and working conditions, than to “obey” systems and rules that are not clear or logical to me, therefore I think that entrepreneurship is the right choice for me.
Let’s look back at the very beginning, what were the difficulties you faced and were there any positive surprises in your work?
My brain is programmed to see difficulties as opportunities to grow and expand my own capacities, so I wouldn’t be able to name something concrete. The whole Leave the Sugar story actually flowed quite spontaneously and smoothly. I believe that in life we never get situations and obstacles that we cannot overcome, so I somehow easily tackle challenges. I don’t think everything is milk and honey and that it will always be easy, but I am pretty sure that I will find a way to overcome the obstacles. Whenever someone asks me what my biggest obstacle is, my answer is always – myself. Everything else is overcome easily, or easier, when I have the capacity and energy to deal with challenges. That’s why constant work on yourself, why psychotherapy, why mentors, why networking, why contacts and building a community of people who are on a similar path, why networking, why cooperation, not competition.
Did you have someone’s help or did you manage all the solutions and problems yourself? If so, what is the best advice you received on that occasion?
I overcame a lot of things by myself, managed with a “stick and string”, but yes, I did have the help of a mentor and that was the best thing I did for myself. I always advise everyone not to regret the money and invest in the business of mentors and coaches because it will return to them many times over. Milica Malešević and Jovana Miljanović are two mentors from the field of business who raised the whole idea of Leave Sugar to a higher level and continue to raise it further, incredible support and wind at their backs, clear focus and a firm hand in moments when they cannot do it alone. I think the support of a mentor is extremely important because it saves time and spending unnecessary energy on challenges and problems that can be avoided if we listen to the advice of someone who has already been there and overcome those obstacles. In addition to business mentors, I also have mentors from professional areas in which I am constantly improving, and currently they are Brooke Castillo and Vanja Bokun Popović. My advice for anyone looking for a mentor is to find people who live what they talk about and who are where you want to be, with whom you share similar values, attitudes and views on life and business. In addition to the support and help of mentors, I would also emphasize the support of family and friends, which is not taken for granted, especially not in entrepreneurial waters when you make decisions that conflict with reality. It really makes the whole journey easier and provides strength when needed.
How do you organize your time, do you use any tools or techniques for effective time management?
We all have the same number of hours in a day, we all have those 24 hours – the only question is how we use them. A serious change in my life occurred when I realized that it is not time that is organized, but energy! And that requires a lot of experiments and self-monitoring, learning to set boundaries and priorities, what is important to me and not urgent to others. The only tools I use to do this are paper, pen, Google Calendar, and notes on my phone for meal planning that I always have close at hand. I write down ALL the obligations and tasks I have on paper. AND VERY IMPORTANT, actually the most important thing – planning your free time and taking care of yourself. It is necessary for everyone to define for himself what self-care is for him – for me it is – trainings, massages, beautician, hairdresser, preventive medical examinations (dentist, gynecologist, systematic), SAN. The next category is education, then work on content for social networks, private and business meetings – and even coffee and lunches with friends. What else I plan besides the calendar are meals. It is very important to plan your meals at least a day in advance and prepare them in advance for the next day, as much as possible because often due to the fast pace of life, we make ourselves hungry and then run to the first bakery or fast food and eat anything that in the long run, it has more consequences than benefits for our health.
I go back to calendars and the answer to the question why is it important to record everything? Because at the end of the month you can go back and analyze the calendar. Aha, so after coffee with that person I felt terrible and exhausted or energetic, did I like the conversation we had, what did I like and what didn’t, where does my energy go…? With the help of the calendar, I realized that I’m not lazy and that I don’t give up training if I schedule them before noon, I also do all important tasks and jobs before noon until 2 p.m. It is the part of my day when I am most productive, do the most and the highest quality work. Everything after that is reserved for “fun” – coffee, massages, beautification, walks. If my education is in the evening, that day is not very burdened because I will not have the energy and capacity to actively follow. The calendar is great because once you write it down, there is a greater chance that it will be done, plus there is no confusion in your head, you don’t carry in your mind, oh, I have a meeting, I’m late, will I make it, what do I have now, when I said I would do this or that, will it be today to write the content, and tomorrow to study or whatever. No, it’s written and that’s it, you open the calendar, you see what awaits you that day and the action, one by one. Of course, take breaks into account, don’t schedule activities one after the other because that’s not realistic, if you go to training from 8 to 9 a.m., you can’t schedule a meeting at 9 a.m. because you need 15-30 minutes to get to your destination, if you work with clients count 10- 15 minutes of rest to reset yourself, go to the toilet, then take a break for food, etc. We are not robots, of course there will be deviations, some things move, that’s why flexibility and a good strategy. Often, if we are perfectionists and workaholics, we forget to slow down, find time for ourselves, a break and self-care, that’s why it’s something that I first plan and schedule in the calendar because burn out is really not in. This way of planning is a process in which you get to know yourself better, it takes a month or two for someone to try this way of planning and find the ideal combination for themselves, but once you understand when you are most productive, planning becomes a pleasure and a way to freedom and more time!
You participated in one of our projects Academy of Youth Entrepreneurship – can you share your experience with us?
I would recommend everyone to apply even if they don’t have a clear business idea. Mentors are there to help in forming an idea, separating the important from the unimportant. Then there are great, professional lecturers on topics I didn’t even know I needed. And wonderful colleagues, companions who are “in the same sauce”, creating new acquaintances and contacts that are worth their weight in gold. Great, positive energy, lots of laughter, lots of support, ambition, the atmosphere just sweeps you away. You realize how important it is to surround yourself with people with the same view of the world, a vision of a better future, creative and brave young people who will surely change the world for the better.
As someone who has been in entrepreneurial waters for some time, what advice would you give to someone who is just starting or planning to start their own business?
I would say to anyone who is thinking and reconsidering whether they should start their own business that they have nothing to lose if they try, and that the sooner they start, the sooner they will see the results of their work. For anyone who is just starting out, I would tell them that there is no giving up after failure because failure doesn’t exist, it’s just a lesson that teaches us how to do better. Perfectionism is something that holds many people back from getting started. The sentence with which my mentor started me is “Finished is better than perfect”, throw yourself into the wind because until you throw yourself into the fire you will not know how much your service is worth and whether it benefits people. Go, and the door will open by itself, step by step, day by day. Have an idea where you want to go, but be open to other options because you don’t know where the road will take you. Pick one thing you want to do and become the best at it. Don’t gasp for a hundred pages because it’s impossible to be the best at everything! Don’t limit yourself too much by thinking how, open yourself up to different possibilities and give 100% of yourself to make your idea succeed. Make friends and contacts every day, because you never know when you will need their help. You are your safest investment, invest in education, mentors, psychotherapy, coaching and improving your skills, because no one can take you and what you carry inside you.
The interview was created within the project “Entrepreneurship 101 for young people from the NEET group” supported by the European Union and the Ana and Vlada Divac Foundation.