LauraxELLE

In Conversation With Măriuca Talpeş

March 8, 2019

A conversation with Măriuca Talpeş, Bitdefender co-founder, about business, women, education and Romania

 

Măriuca Talpeş is undoubtedly one of the most famous women in the tech industry in Romania. Both her and her husband, Florin Talpeş, have been very active entrepreneurs, speakers at many conferences and very inspiring characters for almost three decades. Together they embarked on the entrepreneurship path in 1990, shortly after the Revolution, creating in 2001 what came to be the most sold Romanian IT product on the international market: Bitdefender, a cyber security software with more than 500 million users. Besides being the co-founder of Softwin, the parent company of Bitdefender, Măriuca Talpeş currently leads Intuitext, a company that aims to solve educational problems by creating software and online communities such as Didactic.ro, Olimpiade.ro or SuntParinte.ro.

N.B. In this interview, originally published in ELLE Romania, March 2018 issue, I wanted to talk with Măriuca Talpeş less about the ascension of Bitdefender on the market, which is something more frequently discussed in the local media, but more about her perspective on women in tech, female empowerment, work-life balance and more. She makes time for both playing an instrument and dancing, while still working tirelessly and being a very prominent figure advocating for girls education, so read the whole piece to find out how she does all of this and also to find out her advice for women who want to pursue careers in STEM.

 

I know you’ve been playing the flute for some time and participating in dance competitions. How do you find the power to do new things?

Time exists. If you have a passion, it’s all about putting it in your schedule and making it happen.

I do not think it’s a power, I think each of us has more recent or older passions. In terms of movement and dance, I have always liked dancing ever since I was a child, and after I managed to persuade Florin into it, we started dancing together almost daily. It brings great joy to our lives and great balance in professional life too. Regarding music, I always wanted to play the piano, but in my childhood I had a jam because of a very severe teacher, so I rediscovered the piano once Florin received an organ as a gift from his colleagues which ended up sitting at home covered, so one day I wanted to see how it sounded and since then I have not stopped. After several years of piano, I asked my music teacher if there was a wind instrument that would fit a lady and she recommended me the flute, which I have been playing for five years now and which I really enjoy. Continue Reading…

LauraxELLE

Some issues with our unquestioned media use

March 4, 2019

Small practical guide – Three questions we don’t ask ourselves about our social media use, but should

 

On average, an Instagram user interested in fashion opens the app 32 times a day. (Yes, you’ve read that correctly!) If these stats are currently only available for this app, think about how many times we open Facebook, YouTube, Snapchat, LinkedIn or other apps! How many minutes, in fact, do these platforms steal from us? And are all these hours on our phones well spent? How much of the information we receive brings us value? How much value do we add to those around us? How many pictures mark us positively on a daily basis? These questions, and beyond, are things that we need to address if we want to optimize what we get from the time we spend online, both for ourselves and for those who follow us. After all, if at the end of the day, after lots of screen time, we do not have more information or a better mood/energy than at the beginning of the day, that says something about the quality of the content for which we sacrifice moments with our families, minutes to read or moments of silence in the privacy of our own minds.

In the following paragraphs I have made a selection of themes to ponder on for those of you who want to use these social networks in a wiser way. Beware, this is an article with many (many!) questions whose answers may not be the most comfortable.

 

  1. What do we transmit through what we post online?

“Three more hours until take off, so ask me anything.” “Stuck in traffic again, awesome, what about you, reply to my Insta-sticker with your mood” “I’m bored so I am trying out all these new filters. Which one do you like best?”

Sounds familiar?

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Laura Recommends

February Recommendations II

March 3, 2019

I will not bore you with yet another rant about how short February felt like, but instead I’ll leave you with my Recommendations list for the past month. Also, scroll until the bottom to open two translated articles from my ELLE Romania column. Enjoy!

ARTICLES

A world built for men – The Guardian

This might be the best article I have read in the past months. It shows the risks women are put through because most safety regulations have been made for 75 kg 1.8 metres men, the hidden toxic problems behind nail salons, phone sizes and much more. It’s an absolutely eye-opening piece that you have to read!

The Millennial obsession with starting over – Medium

I got this article in one of my Medium newsletters and it hit home hard. It speaks about the obsession young generations have with moving from place to place and letting a move define them, while also falsely claiming that solely moving to a new place could change them instead of changing themselves first from the inside.

Continue Reading…

LauraxELLE

Thoughts on speed traveling and mass tourism

February 26, 2019

We have seen it all and understood nothing

A story about a possible future Olympic discipline of speed traveling

 

We work an entire year for a seven day holiday outside our own country in which we aim to take pictures of ourselves at the same touristic attractions where other thousands of people have checked in before so we can come back home happy that we now have enough #tb photos to post in the next twelve months. This is all that’s left from our vacation and it’s a pity.

No wonder that increasingly more people have the possibility to become tourists once or multiple times per year. The plane tickets have never been cheaper (that is, if we talk about the economy class), the accommodation options are the most diverse ever, especially for those who want to avoid hotels or who do not have the budget for them (see AirBnB, Couchsurfing.com, HomeAway and many other examples), and the pictures from our social media feeds keep encouraging us to explore Cinque Terre, climb to Machu Picchu, navigate on Lake Como or see the NYE fireworks above the Sydney Opera House. Could we not go as well?

Yes. If we choose to go to a place only because we saw others do it, hence we want pictures like them, we are the most eloquent example for the phenomenon of mindlessly adopting something without understanding its sub layers. And after all, why waste so much money on a vacation when you could spend only a part of them on image editing services in Photoshop?

Continue Reading…

Laura Recommends

January Recommendations II

February 7, 2019

Happy New Year! (Is is still time-appropriate to say this?) Happy Lunar New Year! (I guess this is more appropriate to say now that I am publishing this article in the first week of February)

 

I hope you all got a wonderful start to the year. I know many people dreaded January (hence all these “January was a long year” jokes), but I personally loved it. I feel I have done a lot, grew some more and came across some truly interesting articles, videos and books I can’t wait to share with you. Let’s get started:

 

AUDIO

Two Dope Queens

I listened to their episode with Michelle Obama (I’ll start reading her book in February and I am super excited!) and I was surprised I haven’t listened to these two ladies before! They are so fun, energetic, refreshing and witty! Loved the episode and will certainly listen to more.

How I Built This

I must have listened to 5 HIBT episodes in two days because they were right up my alley: business women and men talking about the companies and the projects they started and the way they reached success. I loved learning more about companies I had no previous knowledge on (or very little info) such as Burton. Highly recommend that episode and the entire podcast series for those of you passionate about business.

Challenge Accepted – Celeste Barber

If you don’t follow Celeste Barber on Instagram, you are missing out. She is a brilliant Australian comedian who recently published a book. As the physical book was not available in the Netherlands, I opted to listen to it (she narrated it herself!) and it was such a nice way to de-stress. While the book doesn’t always seem to always have a red thread, it is certainly a fun, easy read.

Continue Reading…

Laura Recommends

November and December Recommendations II

January 2, 2019

Happy New Year! I hope your 2018 was a good year for you and that 2019 will be even better. For those of you who thought I have abandoned my sacred monthly Recommendation project, I haven’t. It’s just that I have decided I will combine November and December into one big post (perfect for the holidays!) since these months are too crazy to pen down everything I want. You can check out here what I wrote last year during my November and December post.

 

PLACES

Escher Museum, the Hague

I visited this museum in November after complaining I haven’t really seen a lot of museums in the Hague and this quickly turned into one of my favourite ones. It definitely offered more than I have expected, starting with the permanent exhibit of Escher’s visual illusions, the superb interior with square staircases, unique chandeliers and the fantastic interactive rooms perfect for testing how deceiving our sight can be. It’s certainly a fantastic place to spend 2 to 3 hours on a rainy day in the Hague.

Museum Volkenkunde, Leiden

I had no idea about this museum until I got out of Leiden’s train station and saw an ad for an exhibit about Bali. I was instantly triggered, so that obviously became a spontaneous stop during my day in Leiden. The exhibit was very well done, with many local objects, recordings, infographics, videos and so on depicting the local Balinese customs and way of living, while also highlighting the urgency of certain issues: mass tourism, plastic pollution and globalization. Beyond this exhibit, this museum of Ethnology has permanent and temporary exhibits on most regions of the world, from Asia to North America and Australia. I have to go back, so I would definitely schedule more than 3 to 4 hours for a thorough visit.

Femmes Fatales exhibit, Gemeentemuseum, The Hague

I had been waiting for this exhibit ever since I first read about it online and on my birthday I finally managed to get there with my mom. It was absolutely fantastic – from the selection of pieces and designers (all female) to the set up of the rooms and the stories behind them, this was a very tasteful exhibit which displayed more than I anticipated, so it has definitely exceeded my expectations. If you decide to go and visit it, the museum ticket also includes the entrance to the permanent exhibits (such as the one on Delftware) and temporary ones (such as Splendour and Bliss – a fantastic show of Islamic art!).

Continue Reading…

Laura Recommends

October Recommendations II

November 3, 2018

In an extremely fortunate turn of events, after feeling that September was longer than just four weeks, October managed to feel like a month and half as well. This either means that my time machine device works or that I have become more productive and organized since I am getting so much done. Yeah, it’s probably the time machine 😉

Here is what I have loved reading, watching, listening and experiencing this month. If by the end of this article you opened dozens of tabs and you are feeling inspired to test out on your own what I have shared below, please take few seconds and give this article a share: Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, WeChat or even in a good ol’ email to a friend you think might like this article. It would help me a lot!

 

BOOKS

Everything I know about love – Dolly Alderton

I laughed. I cried. I clutched the book tight to my chest. I re-read my favourite paragraphs. I took pictures of my favourite pages. I laughed some more, while in the train next to dozens of uber silent people. No shame though because this book was worth all the looks I got. Since there are too many things to say about, I’ll resume myself to say that Dolly writes fantastically well and relatable about friendship, family, womanhood, loss of close people, youth, university years, dating and much more. If my friends receive this gift from me for Christmas, I hope they act surprised.

The 24h wine expert – Jancis Robinson

One of my wishes for 2018 and also for 2019 was to learn more about wines. And while tasting is one way to learn about them, I also wanted to improve my theoretical knowledge about oenology (my inner nerd is way too excited to use this word). This short book definitely helped me out with some base knowledge, while also leaving me wanting to know more, which is what I think any good book should do. It also made me curious to read more labels at the wine aisle or local wine shop to see if I can recognize abbreviations and grape variety. Definitely a nice gift for wine lovers in the early stages of wine knowledge.

La délicatesse – David Foekinos

After I came back from France last month, I decided I want to read more books in French in order to maintain my level of understanding the language. And I am starting to feel a little mad at myself for not having done this sooner. Considering two French books cost me only 6 euros each, I should have switched to reading in French a long time ago! Budget-jokes aside, (beware, nerd moment coming through) I forgot how exciting and mind-expanding it is not to know all the words in a book – and this made me engage more with the story and truly pay close attention. Regarding the book, I found it beautiful, fragile, fun, sad, and yes, delicate and it definitely made me want to watch the movie adaptation with Audrey Tautou.

Continue Reading…

Laura Recommends

September Recommendations II

October 7, 2018

This September felt like a double Oreo. Before you laugh, hear me out. This September felt like double the goodness for me because I genuinely felt like this past month had 60 days. And maybe it was because I managed to squeeze in not one, but two trips, finish a few books (out of which I will only be listing my favourite two below), went to uni and generally had a really good time. I can only hope that with such a great beginning of the academic year the ensuing months will be just as amazing, peaceful and well traveled. Here are some of the things I have read, watched and enjoyed in the past weeks:

 

BOOKS

The Four – Scott Galloway

I have been looking forward to reading this book for a while now and I can definitely say it has matched my expectations. Scott’s analysis, besides making you do a double take about the things you thought you knew about the Four Horsemen (Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Google), is also very sharp and witty. Although an advice section is not very common within books like his, I particularly enjoyed it.

Shoe Dog – Phil Knight

Before starting this book I didn’t know much about Nike except for the swoosh anecdote and their famous Just Do It campaigns, but I feel like from now on I will be looking with very different eyes at their sneakers and fans. The story was very well written, the rhythm was much better than I thought (I seriously thought they were doing to glaze over the beginning years and just go straight to the uber successful and well known part of their history) and it felt more sincere than many other books I have read. I would have particularly liked to read more about Nike’s story development after 2007, or at least more about how Phil perceived it, but considering the less fortunate events that happened in Phil’s family, I will not complain about that.

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life

6 years of blogging

September 1, 2018

This time 6 years ago I opened my laptop and decided to start a blog. It was 2012 and people were opening blogs like crazy while sharing their links everywhere, from Facebook to Lookbook, Flickr and even Google+. They were fun times.

Although I felt there was a lot of content out there (silly me, I couldn’t have predicted the effects of social media and our current content invasion), I thought I could say something different.

In the beginning, I was sharing my outfits and pictures taken by my mom in our horribly lit house (which is how many bloggers started), my shopping hauls and various moodboards I made using pictures I found online (Pinterest was not that strong back then, so it was all up to Google Images for me). Later the shoots got a bit more complex, involving outfit changes and better locations around my hometown. You get the picture. I was a dreamy 14 year old teenager and I had this ambition to prove the people around me that even teenagers can be relevant in the fashion scene of Bucharest. I used to apply to go to as many events as I could, I went to many fashion and art courses and workshops, I got my first business cards when I was 15 and I started learning who is who in Romania.

Obviously, no one knew me (tbh, I don’t think many know me now either), but for me this didn’t matter because I was too excited to explore this new world.

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