Retsos: Not at all. This was a request, a dream since 1990 maybe—or maybe more than that: 25 years ago was the first time that the private sector asked or discussed the possibility of creating such a company. But eventually it was the crisis that made it possible! People today in Greece are desperate to see changes, something new, something to believe in. So this made our work easier and now we can present our new project, having people say: Ok, we like that, and we trust you. We are ready to invest in it. “Marketing Greece” is a non-profit-company and the private money invested in this effort will never receive a dividend. But we expect to get money back in our businesses by increasing our industry.
So that’s tourism. What about the rest of the greek society?
Retsos: I am positive that the mentality in Greece is changing. Of course, you cannot see that happening really fast. As long as you have people who cannot even satisfy their basic needs. You cannot ask a person to be positive who has a problem of paying rent or getting food for his or her children. Such a citizen cannot have a strategical vision in order to see Greece in five or ten years. But I think that the ones who can do that should do it more actively. And they should be more positive in order to change things so that the person that I described before sees a better day even in a shorter time period.
Aris Kefalogiannis: I am CEO of Gaea and also the vice chairman of the Confederation of Greek Olive Oil industries. I should speak about optimism? Now, I wake up very optimistic in the morning by nature. I become less optimistic when I get into my car and I hear the news on the way to the office. Then I get very optimistic in the office because we are doing very well as a company. Then my optimism drops a little bit when I get back to the car to go back home, and I avoid hearing the television in the evening; that makes me sleep much better in the night.
You sleep well because you feed yourself with excellent Greek products...
Kefalogiannis: Gaea has a vision of being a Greek brand internationally known. The best Greek brands, unanimous with the tradition of antique quality, and Greek food products to internationally promote our cultural culinary heritage: the way we eat at our Greek table, sharing things and enjoying life—which is our eating culture. At the same time, also promoting the Greek Mediterranean diet, which is a very healthy diet, with wellness being a state of mind, where you are healthy, and food is preventative medicine.
You enjoy life, and again, tasty food like the Greek Mediterranean food is part of the joy of life. We are very successful with that vision. Our values are reflected in our products, are reflected in our relationships with our consumers, with our clients, with our suppliers—even with our own team; our team, because we are a company that is a little bit different than the traditional Greek company in the sense that we are not family-owned or run. We are a company that is based on a broader shareholder base and that is also based on a team of people that believe in this vision. So, the third pillar of success for our company is our people.