Meet Marko Paunovic, an amazing talent who embraces his drive for social innovations with creative approaches to education and fundraising. He’s a consultant, moderator, and social entrepreneur. Marko is originally from Serbia where he studied Political Science at the University of Belgrade.
In recent years, he’s been advocating the European institutions and closely following Cohesive, Entrepreneurship, Internet, Enlargement and Youth policies of the EU. He is the founder and CEO of Out of the Box International, an international Network based in Brussels dealing with social innovations.
Marko, at what point in your life did you first learn about your field of work? What called you to it?
While my country was in deep social and economic crisis, destroyed by civil war and finally bombed in 1999, I got engaged both in peace initiatives and a movement that demanded democracy, dialogue and some kind of normal life in Serbia. Shortly after that, I started working for Europe of solidarity and innovations through non-formal education and intercultural learning activities in the European context.
Name the biggest overall lesson you’ve learnt in starting and running a social enterprise?
I have founded and run several non-profits and businesses and my biggest lesson learnt is that you need to stay authentic even when things don’t go as planned. If you’re afraid of making mistakes you can stay at home watching TV, get a stable underpaid job in public administration in Serbia and complain every day how “life has been so rough on you”. My experience proves that when you complain nobody really cares about that.
“You need to stay authentic even when things don’t go as planned.” – Marko Paunovic
What’s your best advice for somebody who wants to pursue a similar path to yours?
I don’t have a universal piece of advice. I would recommend them to follow their own path and avoid listening to others. My experience has taught me that people from our environment create unnecessary expectations from us, so we need to carry that baggage along the way on top of our own challenges. Of course, I like coaching in business. For example, the advices that I receive from my coach has often been very useful for my own motivation and professional development.
Marko, what quotation or saying inspires and motivates you to be yourself and do what you love?
“Life’s a beach” because the hard work must be awarded and every success should be celebrated.
What does the world need more of?
The world needs more responsible people in charge, more connection with nature, and ‘out of the box’ ideas for a better future on Earth.
“If you’re afraid of making mistakes you can stay at home watching TV.” – Marko Paunovic