Maxim Behar: Any Bulgarian is a Pricelless Ambassador of His Country

Maxim Behar: Any Bulgarian is a Pricelless Ambassador of His Country

Respect to Andrey and Ivan for everything you do, as it’s truly unique. But there’s something wrong with this project. I got on board a bit late, maybe in its third or fourth year. But if I had been in charge initially, I would have called it 'Bulgaria Deserves You.'

Bulgaria doesn’t just want you; it also deserves all of you. You deserve it by default—it’s our homeland, we work there, and we feel happy. You, who live in Germany, return to Bulgaria to the compotes, pickles, relatives in the village, grandma, grandpa, and everything else.

More importantly, Bulgaria deserves you because wherever you may be—in Germany, Austria, England, Canada, or Australia—you are all Bulgarians. So, I think 'Bulgaria Deserves You' is a more accurate name for this entire project.

I don’t have much experience and have worked at only three places in my life. I won’t say how old I am because I don’t know. I’m often asked, but I say I don’t know or care. I’ve worked 18 hours a day for as long as I can remember, and I’ve done only three things for a living.

I worked as a fitter in a machine-building plant for 5 years, then as a journalist for 10-12 years, and in public relations for the past 30 years. My company, M3 Communications, is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. I’m super happy with my job. For these 30 years, one topic has fascinated me, aside from going to work every day, growing the business, and paying salaries, which are all part of the business.

I’m invested in how Bulgaria is perceived in the world. This is something that definitely concerns all of you a lot as well. Because whether you sit in the pub, go to work, or get on a bus, people will ask you where you’re from, and you say you’re from Bulgaria.

It’s very important how people around the world see Bulgaria. It’s the most important cause for me, and I put no emotions here. I only see it from a business perspective and focus on how we can present our country well as it is, not sugar-coated or ideal, with the beaches, mountains, forests, and everything else.

I will tell you a story from 10 years ago, which some of you may have heard already. I had lunch with King Charles III, who was still a prince at the time, at St. James’s Palace. As we finished our meal, he told me he had a gift for me. I thanked him, certain it would be a teacup from Buckingham or a storybook, but he said he had invited several business people to the next room for tea and cognac. I had 15 minutes to sell my country by telling them the most important thing about it. I was very nervous despite all my experience. Selling Bulgaria to these people – the CEO of Tesco, British Petroleum, and 4-5 others who didn’t even introduce themselves – was no easy task. And this is perhaps the highest level of advertising. Writing an article or a post on Facebook is one thing; sitting in front of these people is another.

We entered this room, and my brain was boiling, thinking about what I could say. Prince Charles sat in an armchair, I sat on a stool next to him, and these people were in armchairs. He introduced me as his new friend from Bulgaria who would tell them about his country. I stood up and introduced it as the 'WWW State.' Everyone went silent, and the prince looked at me, saying he’d heard about the fastest internet in Europe because we have that in Bulgaria. But I told him it had nothing to do with the internet.

I explained that WWW means 'weather, women, wine,' and everyone started laughing. After that, it became a byword, but because saying women, in this case, is sexist, I immediately explained: ‘’Weather’ means we have all four seasons in Bulgaria; I say ‘women,’ but I mean all people; ‘wine,’ also includes Bulgarian cuisine and all that.

Why am I telling you this story? Because this presentation was made up of 15 seconds. And I’ve come up with such things in seconds many times. When you’re stressed, you know that there’s nothing more motivating than the deadline or 5 minutes before it.

Two years later, his father, Prince Philip, invited me to dinner at Buckingham, and I hesitated a lot about whether to go. But then I found out he was the Duke of Edinburgh, and my daughter was studying in Edinburgh, so I took her to the dinner. Two hundred people were attending, and at one point, Prince Charles walked towards our table. My daughter said he probably remembered me, but I didn’t think so – we had lunch together for only an hour and a half. And the prince approached our table and said, 'WWW, I remember!'

This was absolute proof that whatever we do, we are Bulgaria's ambassadors. With the greatest respect to the Bulgarian ambassador in Germany, Mr. Grigor Porozhanov, who is here with us today, but in your offices, families, and places where you live, you are the ones who can represent Bulgaria in the best way, with or without WWW.

Social media has completely changed the world, and this is a revolution. My book, 'The Global PR Revolution,' which I wrote and published in America four or five years ago, is now number one in an American ranking of the best PR books of all time. I began thinking this was a revolution we would never go back to.

Dear new and old friends, you are something between publishers, editors, and reporters. And that’s what social media has brought to all of us.

We are publishers because we own media, which is the attribute of a publisher. We are editors because we take care of the content of these media. Content is the most important thing. We are reporters because these media outlets must have news, and the etymology of the word reporter is news for us in Bulgaria.

If we can manage social media to present our country in the best possible way, it’s a big success. Bulgaria is a great country. I have lived abroad for many years, traveled to many countries, met many people, and always returned to Bulgaria.

My wife, currently filming with her phone, returned to Bulgaria 10 years ago after living in France for 30 years. When we met, I asked her what she was doing in Bulgaria after 30 years. She said she was staying and didn’t care about France or Belgium. Many people do the same.

Bulgarian singer Lucy Dyakovska was much more emotional during her speech because that’s her nature and business—her soul. I’m more pragmatic. In Bulgaria, you can feel in the best possible way; everything around you can help you. You have your company and your place, and these are not emotions. This is doing business and a way of life.

From everything I have heard and read about this wonderful project, 'Bulgaria Wants You,' I want to tell you that I can’t stand two words. One word is 'emigrant,' and the other is 'abroad.' Come on, it’s 2024. What emigrant? How can anyone be an emigrant in the European Union? A whole array of politicians, including former President Rosen Plevneliev, succeeded in making Bulgaria part of the European Union. There is no "abroad" in the European Union, and this is not abroad.

Yes, we speak Bulgarian; in Germany, people speak German; in other countries, other languages. Of course, there are different orders, habits, and relations, but in the end, this is not abroad, just as Bulgaria cannot be abroad. You saw how many people said interesting things. It’s not a perfect country, and probably neither is Germany.

I don’t know Germany well, but you face difficulties every day, just like immigrants and other people living here. Bulgaria has been a very complicated country over the years because it has gone through an extremely unpredictable transition of values over the past 30 years—what is good and bad, whether politics is good in Bulgaria, etc. But the political system doesn’t work worldwide.

Look back 20 years in Bulgaria. It’s not a different country now; it’s a different planet and has nothing to do with what it was back then. The whole world is also like that, but especially Bulgaria. This Bulgaria that we had at the beginning of 2000 has changed completely.

The most important thing that has changed is that in this globalized world, you can talk online with whoever you want in Australia, Canada, or wherever and do business without having to leave your office to be good at it and profitable.

But in this completely different world, the political system hasn’t changed. In Bulgaria, it happens more often lately, but every four years, we vote to choose someone to govern us, and then suddenly, we see someone else appear on the political scene or realize the person we voted for isn’t right.

If this happens in an international corporation, the CEO would be gone the next day. However, this can’t happen in the political system. We have a total mismatch of values and stability.

I’ve lived through this in Italy in the 70s when governments changed every two weeks. You see the chaos worldwide and how fragmented things are right now. The only drawback about Bulgaria is that the political system is unclear, and many people are confused. However, from a business point of view, I can say wow!

I’m ready to debate with any of you, now or whenever because this is the beginning of a conversation. I’m probably the most reachable person in the world – on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Threads; you can contact me wherever you want. I’m always available to answer, argue, or agree with you. In any case, something good and useful will come out of this conversation.

I’m ready to bet with any of you that no country like Bulgaria has so many niches for work and success. You can go there with 50 thousand euros in your pocket or bank account and start a business. I guarantee you that Bulgaria is the only one with so many niches available from what are called 'former socialist countries' in Eastern Europe—Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia, Croatia, whatever you choose.

But it takes a lot of work, persistence, and ideas. I’ve always believed in this formula: you can succeed if you have some skills, put in maximum effort to turn those skills into something and manage to concentrate. Notice that this is multiplication. If one of the three multipliers is zero, the final result will also be zero. I’ve applied this in Bulgaria hundreds of times.

About 60 people are currently working in my company, and we probably give bread to another 300-400 people aged between 20 and 24. This is the so-called Generation Z, which everyone complains about as useless, not knowing, not having work habits, not being disciplined, not having a value system, and so on.


But every Monday, I gather my managers and tell them that these people are better than us and shouldn’t change. Instead, we need to change according to them. And these people, like you, have a massive opportunity for success in Bulgaria. There is a vast niche to be themselves.

Many times, I’ve been asked what a successful person is. What does it mean to be successful? Is it having a million in the bank, buying a house, or driving a jeep? Or do you have such criteria as in Bulgaria from the 90s? We all know that if you buy a jeep or a house, you’ve reached all your possibilities, and that’s a success.

No, it’s much simpler. A successful person is a happy person. You can live in a student dormitory and be happy. You can work 18 or 4 hours a day, live in Munich or Dortmund, wherever, and work online for Bulgaria and simultaneously be happy.

You don’t need money or a lot of material things. If you’re happy, you’re actually successful. There’s also the opposite scenario, of course – to have many things and be unhappy. But we want to be successful. I think that in Bulgaria, we have all the possible reasons and conditions for happiness.

There are two concepts for a successful person. One is to be a cog in a company or field, but a cog can be unscrewed, thrown away, and replaced with another. Whether you’re Hans Peter or Ivan Petrov doesn’t matter – you’re a cog, the company can unscrew you and throw you away.

The other concept is to be a gear, but there’s an even higher level – to be a leading gear. In any analog clock, the most important thing is the gear that turns the spring.

In human life, if any of us manage to reach the point of turning that spring and keeping the clock accurate, that’s the greatest achievement, in my opinion. If you manage to do it in your own hands, i.e., in the country where you grew up or were born – that’s the greatest achievement for me. You choose whether to be cogs or gears.

Thank you very much!


Watch the full video here.