A Coffee with Alex Panican

Before taking on the position of Head of Partnerships and Ecosystem at the Luxembourg House of Financial Technology (LHoFT), Alex Panican dedicated over a decade to building a strong background in strategy and marketing consultancy. His goal in life is to be an “agent of change,” and he shares his passion and knowledge with his students at the Luxembourg Lifelong Learning Center (CSL) where he teaches digital marketing and business strategy. An entrepreneur at heart, Alex is cofounder of Malinshopper.com (a tool offering local intelligence to retailers and brands), and when he’s not busy being extremely busy, intensive self-defense training and positive thinking keep him on his toes and ready for the next challenge.
What motivated you to become an entrepreneur?

I’ve always been fascinated by entrepreneurs. Listening to their stories of success and struggle. I draw inspiration from the likes of Warren Buffet, Elon Musk and Benjamin Franklin. I am also greatly inspired by my parents who took many risks and have shown great courage and commitment throughout their lives. But my main motivator? Death. The fact that everything I have is temporary, that there are no limitations to what I can do. Stoic philosophy has helped me a lot in recent years, in particular the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius. Stoicism gives you perspective; once you understand that nothing is permanent, you can deal with reality.

How does working at the LHoFT satisfy your appetite for entrepreneurship?

I love entrepreneurs, like-minded people who are not afraid to take risks. My job is to understand their objectives, listen to their needs and find solutions. Despite working for a bank some years ago, I was never really excited by a career in finance. Finance, however, is the rock of our collective daily lives; it’s the perfect place to add some real value through technology. Moreover, the people we are working with at the LHoFT are, without doubt, the future of finance. I have one of the best jobs in the world, believe me. I wouldn’t say it’s the easiest, but it’s an interesting one!

Any advice for startups and entrepreneurs?

I draw a lot of inspiration from military special forces. Like startups, they have very limited resources and people. Navy Seals, for example, can ‘take out’ hundreds of soldiers with just a dozen hardcore warriors! Their secret? Hire the best. Hire motivated people who will go to hell and back to accomplish a common mission. So, my advice is to hire patriots, not mercenaries. In the end, the key to success is finding a team you can trust.

What are your objectives as a teacher, and who attends your courses?

As immigrants from Romania during the 90s, I remember how my family struggled, and how grateful we were for any help that came our way. Today, I’m always thinking about how I can help others. How can I empower people and encourage them to follow their dreams? Teaching marketing and strategy is a great place to start. I mostly teach professionals and entrepreneurs who want to master new marketing tools. I am also lucky to teach journalists who are looking for ways to better market themselves. I believe journalism is the future of marketing, so I also learn a lot. You see, good marketing is not just about technology, it’s about creating added value for your reader and building an emotional connection through storytelling. Journalists are good at that.

One of your mantras is Walt Disney’s “Dream. Dare. Do.” Can you elaborate on these words?

Dream Big. Dare Now. (Just) Do It.

Any other words of wisdom you live by?

I am convinced that the ego is the enemy and challenge is the best path. I am a big fan of Jim Rohn who said: “Don’t wish it was easier, wish you were better. Don’t wish for less problems, wish for more skills. Don’t wish for less challenges, wish for more wisdom.” And for those who are always complaining, Jim says it so well: “If you change, everything will change for you.”

Best coffee in Luxembourg?

The Americano at Golden Bean.

How do you disconnect after a day at the office?

I practice Systema, a Russian martial art developed by the Spetsnaz. It keeps me in the present, which is also the basis of Stoicism. You don’t have a second to think about your problems when someone is trying to punch you in the face!

Three words to describe your journey so far.

Adventure. Gratitude. Love.

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