Walking the walk towards funky citizenry

Hi, my name’s Cosmin and I’m a do-a-holic. Not to be confused with a workaholic, I don’t just randomly work, it’s all part of a fine plan: I love working as long as I’m working for a loved cause. I try to keep it real and only work for what I truly believe in. I’m ever-curious to meaningfully break bread with peer doers, so let me break my story down for you, so you can know where we can intersect and how to approach me. I love a good story - this is why I’m the communication guy, spreading your story to help you connect with relevant people.

Happy to be broadcasting live from street protests - almost 7000 people saw this video (113 of them watched live)

Please excuse my stylistic cliche, but I’ll open this monologue with a quote that I like, hoping to inspire a dialogue in the comments section: some believe that “any man who is not a socialist at age 20 has no heart. Any man who is still a socialist at age 40 has no head.” I’m turning 30 this year, so I would place myself somewhere in between young and not-so-young. No matter how hippie you might be, you will realize, sooner or later, that money matters more than you’d wish to admit. At least this was the case for me, after I ignored this important life variable and focused only on creating quality, believing that money will naturally flow if quality were to be delivered. Sure, there are other types of currency - say social capital - but real currency kicks in when the power of love runs out.

Love is the only big word one should use more often. Yeah, I use big words with caution because I respect them. I don’t go around saying that I’m on a mission to save the world, even if deep down I believe that my work can, in time, change attitudes and beliefs. I don’t want the banality of the mundane to compromise noble ideas like freedom or revolution. I think it’s only decent to give them a rest for a while, since there are so many opinionators and politicians abusing them - you know, that kind of discourse so useless that doesn’t even inspire action.

Our first project at Funky Citizens was “Bani Pierduți”

I enjoy setting the record straight - public money is for public investment in what the citizens decide is important. Public money is not a free source of income for corrupt politicians, fuck this shit! Let’s bridge the gap between the ideal of having more public money put to good use and the reality of wasting tons of money in the past 25 years in Romania. From a professional standpoint it was a challenge (still is) - making fiscal education sexy is no easy task when everybody hates the IRS and the Ministry of Finance. Getting citizens involved takes time, and that’s hard for me to accept, I’m so impatient that I end up pushing for progress and change.

Back to capital: I for one could say I’m really bi-polar in respect to currency and our dependence on it. I’d really love to be financially independent so that I can live a meaningful life which doesn’t revolve around a paycheck, but I’m also beginning to better understand this social convention that we call money and how it can be an indicator for value. I’m torn between the bourgeois and the working class and can’t which one of them is my tribe, since both seem appealing. I’ll take a short trip on memory lane, perhaps it provides clues as to who I really am.

It’s not where you’re from, it’s where you’re at

My parents still own that one bedroom apartment which I shared with my brother for way too many years. My mother and father are the hard-working type, determined to make a living for their family while abiding to common sense principles (unlike the genre of corrupt politicians that never seems to go out of fashion). I got the classical „go live with grandpa and grandpa until Friday” treatment. The grandparents lived downtown, while mom and dad lived somewhere in the southern suburbs of Bucharest - this confuses me when I try to frame my growing up story.

Chronologically speaking, I lived downtown first and foremost, until 7th grade - I only went to Berceni neighbourhood in the weekends. But I needed to escape the comfort zone of the teacher’s pet straight-A student that I was turning into. I was naturally attracted to adventure and I knew it was not to be found only in books. Actually, I wanted to write the books, so I became a (short-prose) writer since 3rd grade. I needed real life experience for that, so I embraced and started observing. For a while I was reactive.

Then high-school happened and I fell in love with the freedom and creativity I discovered in hiphop culture. It kind of opened up my eyes - I feel that the most sacred place of my growth was my liberal and progressive high-school. I’ve soon discovered conscious rap, the Harvard-approved cousin of, say, gangsta-rap. Preaching non-violence as a counterpoint to the gun-blazing gangsta movement, it spoke directly to the hippie inside me. Plus, the brainy lyrics were the mental dessert I OD-ed on.

Concrete schoolyard. Youngsters nowadays complain that Coșbuc high-school ain’t as cool as it used to be.

This should be an appropriate time to thank KRS-ONE for implanting some sane principles inside the very core of my personality. His nickname was the Teacha, probably the first rapper who lectured at Stanford and succeeded in doing what my formal teachers promised they would deliver at the end of my political science studies: critical thinking (suits me well, I’m a Virgo).

Unlike KRS-ONE, this is not conscious rap. The beat is banging, the guys seem true to their game and some of them ended up with great profits, but what kind of message are they delivering?

For me it’s all about the five “C”s (no posers, please):

My greatest discovery so far is that I super-like it when communities creatively connect, culturally and civically. Indeed, hiphop + an open-minded high-school environment scared the shyness out of me and enabled me to connect with a lots of fine people across disciplines. So far my head has been wrapped around literature, journalism, online, comms (advertising, PR), tech and, finally, the crazy world of NGO folk. Always searching for something new to chew on, I’m the proud owner of an ENTP personality type (wonder how much time it would take me to change my ways). I loved the sense of community and togetherness - hello socialist Cosmin! - that I got whenever I hooked up with my peeps: our background didn’t matter, for we were all equal in the love we shared for the common interest that got us in the same room, in the same crew, in the same company, you name it. When I was in the 11th grade I turned from consumer to producer and started to put my ideas out in the world - and that was that. I was infected with doingitis. I can go on for hours about how we’ve started up Oricum magazine back in Coșbuc high-school and how influential the whole experience was for my upbringing, so I’ll stop now, but feel free to ask me anything offline.

Back to work: form follows function

My function is to translate and explain, to argue and compel, to amplify messages and connect people with causes. This is what I actually do, even if most of the people only see the by-products, the tools with which I fulfil my part: posters, websites, videos - anything can be a communication material. Funny (or paradoxical) enough, my job implies that I create buzz around ideas, but, when it’s my turn to get exposed to other people’s campaigns, I find it hard to get excited and believe all the hype. In fact, the more you’ll tell me about a given product, the more reluctant I become. It might be the Christian that survived in me, because, well, do you remember the Bible and the whole „don’t make idols for yourself” principle (cough Steve Jobs cough)? I think it’s only sane to refuse to place anything on a sacred pillar - unfortunately for God, this principle also holds true for him in my interpretation, sorry. This is probably why I refused to see the Matrix for many years because everyone was telling me to do it. Telling or yelling, can’t remember, but of course style matters when you deliver a message - again, this is why I do what I do, am naturally attracted to promoting stuff that I think is valuable (for me and others), and I use style and techniques to do it.

I have a dilemma, perhaps you can help me out: I’m into publicity and I’ve trained myself to become a results-oriented communicator, with a broad skillset. I have been quite proficient in campaigning lately (I’ve helped create and managed the Uniți Salvăm Facebook page back in the autumn of 2013), but I get really nervous and caught up in all my thoughts whenever I talk about projects that I’ve started and own. Why is that and how can I solve that? Think about this while you click play on the Elvis tune below and maybe you’ll come up with an answer for me when we meet IRL.

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Deeply appreciating the honesty

@yozness, you are clearly one of the most connected people in Bucharest, I actually heard about you before coming here and even though we haven’t met personally, I can see where your traction comes from - my bet is on personal charisma, aside from the art of communication.

I have to run to actually meet you downtown now :slight_smile: but would be curious if your question at the end refers to learning to explain compellingly what you do and sum it up in a way that makes sense for audiences? Or something else?

blushing - thanks for the kind words, and do come visit us again at Colivia. Indeed, I am having issues summing up what I do when asked for the first time. My tactic is to adapt to the person asking, but it’s usually a guessing game, in which I assume what bit of the broad what I do field would connect with the person asking.

Or maybe I am just getting lazy or frightened on this one without any real reason (that irrational fear, you know).

Resonating

Hi Cosmin,

So looking forward to meet you in person this week. Re what you wrote above. I’ve yet to meet anyone who’s worked in commercial comms that doesn’t have the same ambivalence towards packaged information. And when you are so used to “speaking” it can be very very hard to listen, you’re somehow in the role of sending out information…rather than taking it in. Perhaps it is  a skill one that comes easily for some, for others it has to be learned.

Re the nervosity of talking about your own projects. I am no expert but I do ALOT of presentations. My approach is to prepare them in advance, write a script, time myself doing the presentation. Cut it down to about half the length I am allowed, practice again.

Also for me writing about them is very helpful. Because it forces you to find those sentences, simple and elegant metaphors, for what you want to describe. And this simplicity fosters confidence because you see you are not “losing” people. If you’re charismatic you can engage people anyway without all the preparation, but it can be really exhausting.

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Indeed

Hey there Nadia, thanks for your comment, it might be a professional shortcoming as you clearly point out. I am also curious to discover your story, what got you to co-found the Edgeryders, so yeah, let us move the discussion offline.

Your approach must work - this presentation rocks!

Noemi just posted it, hope more people watch it ahead of the workshop, it really delivers. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I5ffVJRLAdk

Really looking forward to meet you, Nadia.