A kampung boy at heart

“A kampung boy at heart” was first published in MARKETING WEEKENDER Issue 344

By The Hammer

I have always taken pride in being able to pronounce Andreas’ last name (Woh-YaZaki) Vogiatzakis, but over the years he has become more than a household name in the industry. Andreas, or AV as he is better known, has seen media from all sides of the coin: from agency to media specialist and even media owner. Plus now his Wiki page can also include him as a published author!

From Greece to New York to Asia and finally Malaysia, AV is a highly sought after speaker on the trainer circuit. Never one to turn down a speaker invitation, I stand corrected, as he adds, “I am a ‘learning partner’, not a trainer.” In other words, he is a sifu. That settles that. 

A kampung boy at heart, Andreas is moulded by simple, yet powerful family values, and guided by divine intervention to an unplanned life journey of self-discovery, Andreas sailed the world and made Malaysia his home of choice back in 2006. 

In his 36-year career, Andreas has been a game changer, a TEDx speaker, an author, a multiple award-winning marketing maverick, and in the Top 100 Inspirational LinkedIn Icons. His training or rather his “learning journeys”, as he defines them, his coaching, as well as his keynotes and masterclasses are created based on his vast personal experience around the world, through which he has transformed many businesses, MNCs, SMEs, startups, and many life travellers and executives to define their purpose and achieve exponential growth & success. 

Living and working in Asia since 1997, he has successfully navigated many companies throughout two recessions, a global monetary crisis & two pandemics. Over the years, he has served in numerous industry associations, industry committees/boards, university advisory boards and multiple local, regional and global awards juries.

AV has built and managed several media agencies for Publicis, Omnicom, WPP and Havas Vivendi, leading them to flagship positions in their respective markets in Japan, Taiwan, and Malaysia. Serving Malaysia’s media industry, he was the first non-Malaysian Group CEO of the Star Media Group.

Living and working in Asia since 1997, he has successfully navigated many companies throughout two recessions, a global monetary crisis & two pandemics. Over the years, he has served in numerous industry associations, industry committees/boards, university advisory boards and multiple local, regional & global awards juries. 

In 2020, with over a thousand hours of training, speaking, and coaching under his belt and with rich multi-cultural experiences living and working across the world, he launched his own company, AMVPLUS ADVISORY (AMV+), focusing on experiential training and transformational coaching. 

He shares, “now more than ever, we need guidance to transform, develop higher standards of leadership, and create a higher purpose that will guide us to a better tomorrow, with courage and a strong belief in the possible”. 

To top it all up, a year ago Andreas authored and launched his own book, Courage at the Crossroads, a book that teaches leadership in ways that textbooks don’t. His book is available worldwide on Amazon, Book Depository, IHUB, as well as all major bookstores of MPH and Borders. It is a book filled with stories of successes, failures, determining values and lifechanging decisions, all meeting at the crossroads.

We got talking…. 

What is one skill you believe is the most important that practitioners can learn and subsequently excel in?

Attitude. And what precedes it is self-awareness. It is self- awareness that I believe will be our winning ticket into navigating this increasingly fractured world. Once self- aware, we can start working on all these areas that will give us the opportunity to be successful. And while I single out selfawareness, which in fact is my “public secret” as I call it, the rest of the power skills, become critical. What are the power skills, you might ask? These are the well known “soft skills”, which I prefer to call “power skills” as this is exactly what they do: empowering us to be better. It is all about following an open heart and adopting a growth mindset, listen actively, question with purpose and power, being emotionally intelligent, communicating with presence, having empathy, being vulnerable, being resilient and flexible, being determined and tenacious, being collaborative, and of course, above all, having courage. 

What do you bring to the table having been a CEO of several companies previously? 

It is important not to be a “theoretical” “trainer / learning partner”. Being a CEO at various companies, cultures and environments, grounds my knowledge into practice. I have worked with the Americans, the Greeks, the French, the British, the Australians, the Japanese, the Chinese, and of course the Malaysians. This smorgasbord of ethnicities, working cultures, and diverse business practices and processes, has given me an edge that is instrumental into building learning programs that cut across borders, cultures, ethnicities and life outlooks. Being high up in the hierarchy, and climbing the corporate ladder from the ground up, gives me perspective, experience, and depth. I had good bosses, bad bosses, amazing mentors, and brilliant coaches that I learnt from. 

And along the way, I reached the highest successes, won some of the most prestigious awards, I got financial rewards, fame and money poured in, and of course, I also was gifted with some of the worst failures and disappointments along the way. 

What makes your training and coaching different? 

It is immersive and experiential. This means that it revolves around our collective  experiences, juxtaposed to theory and teachings, enabling oneself to immerse into a journey of introspection, self-awareness, and self-evaluation, with honesty and courage to become vulnerable in front of the mirror and embrace change within. What is within becomes our base, our blueprint, our cement where all the rest are built upon. And therefore, for us to move to conscious competence, to master our practice and become unconsciously competent, we need to start from within. That’s the beginning and the end.

Having worked across many countries and cultures, how are things similar or different? 

The human psyche is the same everywhere. All human beings desire happiness, regardless of color, ethnicity, religion, or language. We all crave success, connection, and relevance. And we all start with the best intentions in mind. That is a fundamental truth. Having said so, there are cultural nuances, as societies galvanize their citizens in uniform ways, majority speaking. And thus, the Japanese are different from the Americans, the French from the British, the Chinese from the Australians, and the Malaysians, well, are unique too. 

On the surface, as the deeper fabric of humanity is the same, we are all one race. Understanding these “surface” differences, however, how the game unfolds differently in different environments, how the relationships are built, how trust develops and nurtures closer connections under different circumstances, what is the inner meaning of communication, and how leadership needs to adjust its style to serve the people, depending on the situation, the culture, the readiness of the team and their orientation in its country of origin (and all the nuances that go with it) is important. 

What makes you happy? 

When I add value to people’s lives and enrich their experience, when I become a reason for them to look inside their soul and heart, discover more about themselves, and then decide what to keep, what to adopt, what to change, I am complete. I have been a high-flying CEO for years, across many markets and companies. I have run companies, built companies, restructured companies, you name it, and armed with my successes and, mostly, my failures, embracing them all, I finally realized that my true calling was to the journey of people who want to search, discover, transform and elevate themselves to higher grounds of self-consciousness. 

And I do not do it for a living, I live for it. 

With love. 

Andreas is the Chief Learning Partner & Leadership Learning Coach of AMVPLUS ACADEMY and Executive Director of AMVPULS ADVISORY SDN BHD. [email protected], www. linkedin.com/in/andreas-vogiatzakis

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