Yes, I have heard of Vladimir Miletic. I am aware of his successful career as a director and mentor, as well as his blog where he addresses themes of success, motivation, and taking action.
Though I am not naturally skeptical (“Ahahahaha” – note from the subconscious), I was a bit doubtful when his book “On the Path to the Summit” (serb. “Na putu ka vrhu”) appeared. Had he too jumped into the pool of motivational writers? Was he going to attempt to “inspire” us with his wisdom and philosophies? When I picked up the book and read on its back cover that it was a collection of stories about people Vladimir had met, another worm of doubt appeared. Would this be a collection of his exploits in helping others? Or perhaps he would adapt stories of famous personalities to local setting, inserting popular local names to make the successes of others more relatable? You might have noticed that I am quite skeptical and cautious when writing about local authors, right? 🙂
It turned out that there was no reason for concern.
In four chapters (“Rules Rules”, “My Balkan”, “Remind Me What That Was”, and “What I Would Give”), Vladimir Miletic shared about forty short stories of people he had encountered, their rises and falls, their thoughts, as well as conversations they had with the autor.
The stories are indeed interesting and definitely depict people from our region. You might not have had the chance to personally meet these acquaintances of Vladimir Miletic, but you have surely encountered people with similar psychological profiles in your own (both professional and personal) environment. I can say for myself that I have met such types of people. Ambitious, lazy, greedy, cunning, disciplined, patient…
But, these are not just stories about these people. They are also stories about Serbia. About the business of Serbian companies. About how things are done in state-run and private enterprises.
These are also stories about people and circumstances that were either allies or enemies to our heroes in this book. People who were there to selflessly offer help, as well as those ready to sabotage them.
At first glance, it might seem like this is some kind of depressing book, but the situation is different. True, the painful reality of having a career in Serbia is recognizable from the stories.
But, these are also stories about hope and faith in effort, as well as the belief that this same effort will bring success. Of course, besides effort, timing is also important, being in the right place at the right time.
Of course, I cannot vouch for the truthfulness of these stories. Whether the events really happened, whether some are exaggerated or beautified, the author knows best. But, there is no doubt that you will find these stories familiar, and it won’t take much for you to simply conclude: “Yes, this is definitely Serbia as described!”
There are various stories, but the ones that made a particular impression on me were “Stealth Technology”, “Faster Than Wisdom”, “Do You Play Chess at Work”, “Princess Doughnuts”, “Teddy”, “A Meeting with Opportunity”, “And After Tito”, “A Perfect Excuse”, “Magic Word”, and “The Swiss Alps”.
The writing style is clear, without too much embellishment, but far from dry. The stories are easy and quick to read, and they unconsciously lead you to think, “This reads quickly and is charming, let’s just go with one more story”. And when you reach the end of the book, you remain thoughtful about what you’ve read. And on your face floats a smile, and you yourself don’t know what kind, whether it’s full of melancholy, bitterness, or something else.
What I would add as a charming detail are the illustrations that adorn some stories and appealingly complement their essence.
To sum up, the book “On the Path to the Summit” is best described by the last paragraph on the back cover:
“Many will recognize in these stories their bosses, colleagues, business partners, parents, and friends. Some will better understand their ups and downs, wrong and right decisions. While the luckiest will find something very precious and rare in the book.
The inspiration for their path to Success“.
All in all, I think this book is worth reading, especially if you plan to start and develop your career in Serbia. It will remind you how things work here and might give you an idea/inspiration for your future Success.
And of course, a question for my dear readers: “Can a path of honesty and persistence really bring success in Serbia?”
Of course, if you have already read the book, did any story particularly appeal to you?
(Originally reviewed: 24/05/2018)