I am a person who was accidentally born in the former Yugoslavia. When I say by accident, I mean is that my parents were young students when I was born, obviously, they didn’t know much about contraception. I was brought up as a cosmopolitan. I ended up working in 57 or 58 countries worldwide. On both sides, my grandparents were teachers. My parents ended up being university professors, I was destined to become a university professor.
I was the best high school student in the former Yugoslavia and I was given an opportunity to choose where I wanted to continue my education. I had read in the newspapers that the Bay Area — meaning Berkeley, Oakland, San Francisco — was the place to be at the late 60s, with hippies, with riots, with the sexual revolution. It was THE place for me to continue my studies, I decided.
I ended up being among the best students in that school as well. Not just in the studies, but also in sports. I was already a master in judo. I was a swimmer. I was an ice skater, mountain climber and others.
But I decided to go back, because iI felt I was supposed to return to my country and contribute to it. I decided to go into the medical field. And I knew from the very beginning that I wouldn’t be a typical doctor: I was going to be a forensic pathologist.
But when the Civil War started — as both a judo trainer and a forensic pathologist — I had seven of my ex Judo colleagues on my autopsy table in one day. They were killed in the war. I was the President of the doctors association, but I decided that enough was enough. Although I was quite a well known forensic pathologist worldwide — I had worked at Scotland Yard in England and for the FB. I wrote my doctoral thesis at Stanford, was at NYU and at Cornell.
But I decided one morning that it would be my last day in the medical field. I decided I’d turn my hobby into my work: being a coach and trainer. My hobby was Applied Psychology in sports. The psychology of sports is more or less like the psychology of life. Because life is a struggle, life is a success, life is something that we aim for, to become champions. The technology of success is more or less the same.
I ended up lecturing, visiting 57 countries coaching people in Applied Psychology, being a public speaker. My only handicap is that I come from where I come from. Otherwise, I would probably be one of the most well-known public speakers and trainers in the world. I work with people like John Maxwell, one of the leading lecturers in the field of leadership. I work with Bob Proctor.
I’ve published 13 books so far in different areas of Applied Psychology: in management, leadership, stress management, time management. I ended up returning to the academic field, as a professor in communications. It’s kind of unusual that somebody with a medical background ends up coaching and training quite well known, local and international professionals in politics, arts, theater, movies, etc.
I was the head of different international teams for negotiations and more. So my life was quite International. And I didn’t see a reason to publish something in English, because plenty of literature is already out there. But one of my books is was quite well known and appreciated in Russia. Recently, I’ve published a new book out, entitled “Future in the rear mirror.” Itt summarize my life in 60 stories — what has directed me through life.
I feel that we need to understand that we are very present in the lives of others, but we are not trained to see them. But we can learn from them if we are open minded.
Although I was born in a family of two very young students, I was lucky and my dreams — things I visualized as a kid — became a reality. I’m acquainted with 16 to 17 Nobel Prize winners, I’ve worked in prestigious universities. I was an expert in different fields, I traveled the world, and I’ve touched the lives of over a million people.
I enjoy working with young people, especially because that’s something that I was taught from the early years of my childhood: as long as you’re curious, as long as you keep your mind open, as long as you have this childish curiosity your vital and you’re and you’re alive. Otherwise you’ll turn into a zombie.
Being 67, I feel quite comfortable within myself. I actually feel quite young and I enjoy life. But also, knowing that if you want to be motivated, you need to build up a community of happy, motivated positive people around you.
In my professional life, I had roughly 4500 autopsies. This meant I was part of many tragic stories of the violence of death, of different family histories, and criminal backgrounds. This has made me quite compatible with the realism of life, we do need to live moment to moment. That’s something that I tend to transfer to my students regardless of their age and regardless of their field of interest. Whether it’s through sport, whether it’s through my academic lectures or my seminars and workshops.
I was invited by Jonkoping University in Sweden where I taught a subject called “the role of young people in their communities. It was about 12 or 14 years ago. I remember the curriculum, it was never too formal. This course had a direct link to my lifetime experience, because when I was preparing for the European Junior Championship, I was injured and I ended up in a coma for over three weeks. After that, I decided that I didn’t want to continue with my sport activities in terms of competition and competing. Instead, I studied very hard to become one of the youngest coaches in judo and jujitsu.
As a result, from an early age, I realized that teaching was a valuable method: if you do something you have a tendency to forget after a while, but If you learn something through experience by transferring knowledge to somebody, then you dig deep into the background of the topic, the idea. And that’s the best way to learn.
I have students all over the world. And because of the time difference, I practically never sleep. Because when I finish with my students in New Zealand and Australia, then my students wake up in California.
But that’s that’s my life. I’m a teacher, and I enjoy it.
When the time comes that I have to leave the planet, I want to leave only one virtual thing behind: Dr. Nick, the teacher.
In my career as Judo coach, I was affiliated with American Judo Academy, having the highest rank you can have in sports in Japanese martial arts: Sensei, the Supreme teacher. This makes me very proud, because it was one of my dreams. The most important motivator is that self actualization, it’s being somebody, being recognized, being useful. You want to be someone who isn’t just a number or just a name, but some someone who makes a mark on other people.
Besides my professional life of being a doctor and being a motivator, public speaker, and author, I’m also the father of seven children. The span of the ages are between 7 and 40. It’s quite a broad spectrum of experience with regards to different times, different ages, and of course the different places in the world where they grew up: different surroundings, circumstances and so on.
Just before our interview, I had returned from the city. Now, looking back at the time 15 to 20 years ago, I cannot understand anymore where got the energy and the willpower from to live in places like Manhattan, like Tokyo, like Moscow, like San Francisco. For me now, I have to drive 15 minutes to go to the city. In the past, it was quite normal for me to be stuck in traffic for two hours. I know it’s all about perspective.
My interest then was to be part of the melting pot and to be as present as much as possible in the crowd. Now, I like to look at the things from aside, because the view is better. Although for me and my family it’s generally never a problem to go to the city, it’s only half an hour, it’s not the South Pole. But it’s another thing to think about, how your perception changes, how life changes.
When I was young, the most important thing for me was to win the most prestigious prize or award. Now value lays in playing with my children and doing things like that. I guess that’s the reason why in most of the past societies, you had this combination of those who are biologically and economically at the top who were middle-aged, and then you had the Council of the old, who directed them with their experiences.
When we are young, we look at the things from case to case. After a while, if you are a good observer, you’ll realize that quality of life exists starts from from physical health. Young people don’t worry too much about it, because for them, it’s understood that they are healthy, that they are strong, that they are vital. But if you want to be in balance, you want to be happy, you need to apply spiritual health, ecological health, and business health. This is vital wisdom older experienced people can transfer to young people.
The times have changed a lot in my home country especially. I lived in five different countries without moving. That’s the dynamism of the world that we live in. But there are some principles which never change, that are pliable. I don’t mean by imitating them like monkeys, but by moderating them and applying them to different aspects of life.
For example, whatever is in the past, whatever you cannot influence, forget about it. I don’t mean forget the facts, but don’t it interfere with your life. That’s one of the principles very few people apply.
Of course — knowing what I know as I was involved in building the largest brain bank in the world — I am aware of our limits. For example, comparing the brains of those who would jump in order to sue to commit suicide, to those who fell accidentally, I understand what our brain’s biochemistry does as well. Different surroundings and topics influence our behavior. The question is, to what extent we can actively influence our state of mind and our emotions.
It’s the reason why there are so many unhappy people worldwide. And why the concept of materialism within the globalization is influencing people: they look for happiness in material goods, in the outer world without sinking and deep diving into themselves. That’s something I can help with, but people have to do it — and find it — themselves. Because, if you don’t like yourself, if you don’t love yourself, why would somebody love you if you don’t have anything to give? That’s something people don’t always understand.
When I was very young, my first playmates weren’t children, they were my parents’ professors. And one of the things I learned from them very early on, is that if you can’t you can explain something to a completely illiterate person, then you don’t have the slightest idea what you’re talking about yourself.
I was the president of the Doctors Association, so I had over 4500 doctors around me. A lot of them tried to hide their ignorance within Latin phrases, they were hoping that it would get them respect. But it doesn’t happen, because people want to understand what you’re saying in very plain language.
I was a professor of wellbeing theory at the postgraduate level at university. One of my colleagues mentioned they decided to give me the subject, because I enjoy living. Wellbeing is, first of all, an individual feeling of balance. And that’s the balance that I was mentioning earlier. Without that balance, we are insecure, even being physically out of balance. In order to maintain that balance, we need to recognize that we have to oppose the gravity mediocrities. You need to be actively focused on who you are, who you want to be, where you want to go. And to be ready to do it yourself with or without support from others.
When you achieve something more or less by accident, you are lost. You should know where you’re going, and that you’ll have to rely on yourself in getting there. Then, whatever you achieve, you’ll get this psychological success, which means more self respect, which means more self confidence or more motivation. And that’s something that people don’t understand. Motivation is not like a gas selenium, go to the gas station and say, give me 10 bucks for all the gasoline motivation.
Endurance is something that is part of this process. And the achievement itself is not a destination. Achieving is the road is from where you are, where you stand, to where you want to be. We’re growing every step on the way.
When the last day of your life comes and your turn back and look at your life, what would you want to have achieved? If you know that, and if you know that being young, you are more confident, more devoted to your mission, and you are more likely to live a happy life.
I ended up in Berkeley in late 60s, I met people who are hippies who turned into yuppieFor example Steve Jobs. Most of the people who knew him back then thought he was crazy. But he was crazy, just because he knew what he wanted. And most of the people didn’t know. They were hoping that something will happen with their life, while people like Steve Jobs are creating their lives. Your own personal mission statement is very important.
I want people to be aware of the fact that we can do whatever we think, whatever crosses our mind — not just by accident, but that it is something we can achieve. In order to achieve it, we need to know who our best friend is: our subconscious mind. Unfortunately, we are not trained to do so. When we realize that all those things that we want in our life, we need to visualize and mark them with positive, joyful feelings. Our visions are basically the models of our future life. We are influencing that border that we cannot see, the border where energy turns into matter and vice versa.
Post a thoughtful comment below ahead of the workshop on “Creativity and Entrepreneurship - Empowering Youth for Better Future” on November 19!
This will help us to prepare good case studies for exploring these topics in detail. It will also ensure participants are at least a bit familiar with one another’s background and experiences around the topics at hand.