Mr Petar Ćurić is executive producer of Branding Croatia in the world seminar. I met him during the second seminar edition in Zagreb and it was a chance to talk to him about the future of Croatia and its national branding, culture, and cultural diplomacy in today's competitive world.

Petar, what can you say about your education and career? How do you see it in the context of today's competitive world?

Majority of my education was done in Great Britain and the United States, except for the first ten years which were spent in Croatia. I am an alumnus of University of Huddersfield Department of Music and earned my Master's at the University of Surrey in Guildford. I also studied at Michigan, North Texas and CalArts in Los Angeles. Today's world is highly competive, but I see this as an opportunity rather than a threat. I love competition. It makes one work harder and think deeper. It urges one to test his/her psychological boundaries and strive to go an extra mile in everything one does. I am oldfashioned when it comes to values in business. I respect a man's handshake and a deal done on a person's word. For me, from the beginning of humanity nothing really changed nor did it get more difficult. Creative industries are all about sharing the love for humanity with the world. If it is possible also to make a little bit of a profit from it all, so much for the better.

You are very active in culture, what was the reason for that?

Unfortunately, numbers and logical thinking doesn't excite me. I sometimes feel those are „too much of this world“. I prefer a reality not bounded by limitations. Culture and the Arts give me just the freedom I need. I started off as a performing artist, professor of music at College and University level, and some ten years ago I stepped into a completely new world of social entrepreneurship and cultural management. I began organising Summer Music Camps, seminars and various music masterclasses and workshops. I felt really excited by this, and immediately decided to dedicate my life to it. The reason is, passion. Pure passion.

What do you think, what are the biggest chalenges for culture today? Quality, or quantity when we talk about authors and their works?

Hunger. It is a source of all creativity. I cannot comprehend any kind of top-quality art or invention coming from full stomach. I remember this quote from William Blake's „Brave New World“ book, it went something like this: „Humans beings will be well fed, sexually satisfied and not seeking...“ – in my opinion, that's a formula for disaster. A man has to struggle. The real challenges for today's culture are a biporal nature of the actual art scene. On one side you got wealthy, well-connected („well-fed and not seeking...“) marketing specialists calling themselves artists. No soul. No inspiration. No God. And on the other you got artists poor in material means with awesome talent and skill but not much room for exposure in the general media, thus never reaching any possibility of making a decent buck from their art. The quantity vs. quality debate I coudn't care less about. I am more interested in the HEART debate. Heart? Or no heart? That's all that matters.

In this two days we heard excellent lecturers like Mr Ante Mandić, CEO and owner of IN2 Group, Mate Rimac, CEO of Rimac Automobili, prof Daniel Kolak from the William Patterson University in New Jersey, Mr Ivan Mažuranić an accomplished banker out of Geneve, and musician and artist Mr Nenad Bach from New York. What was the main message from all the presentations? What would you like to highlight during the seminar Branding Croatia in the World?

The Branding Croatia in the World project was put together in 2014 to try and challenge a few things here and raise hell to the status quo situation that gradually became unbearable to us (Nenad Bach and myself). The message from all the presentations can be summoned in one simple phrase: „It's possible!“ . Croats generally like to complain a lot. Think Latin America, Spain, Greece... You know, the Mediterranean countries. Well, I'm kinda fed up with all that. I mean, think Mark Zuckerberg. One person. He completely changed the way we live our lives with the Facebook invention. One man! Therefore, yes, it is possible. We want to make Croatia the kind of country a Swiss person would wanna come and live in. There is a lot of great potential here and I think we are literally months and days away from turning this country around and making it an incredible place to live and do business in.

Croatia has many own symbols when we talk about branding, such as a tie, sport heroes such as Janica i Ivica Kostelić, Luka Modric, Toni Kukoč, Dražen Petrović, Davor Šuker, Pag cheese, Dalmatian dog etc. What is most important in promoting national values? Is that also a rule for every country or product in the world?

Whenever public diplomacy and branding are discussed, creating some kind of consistency and/or a system must immediately be addressed. Creating positive perception of a country does not just happen overnight. We need a structured and well thought-out context, with lots of well delivered, rightly-timed little bits – be it cultural diplomacy, successful sports personas, political and historical information, historical points or just pure and simple tourist attractions – promoting national values is all about two things. One, we must ensure we, as Croats, carry positive perception of what it means to be a Croat in our hearts. And two, once we rightfully convince ourselves, we must convince the world in this that we strongly believe. There is no other way. And yes, it is the same for every country. But not every country has the same starting position. Keep in mind the Croatia's Adriatic, the „Thousand Islands“ story, the Roman artefacts and remains (Arena in Pula, Dioklecian Palace etc). Majority of the World's countries were not as fortunate to have all of these aspects working to their advantage. Croats often forget these things and wrongly focus on disadvantages only. That's very bad for business.

In this world of modern communications, internet and social networks are certainly helping in branding of countries and products. What can you say about the future of advertising? What kind of technologies will be presenting products?

I think a man himself has always been – and will always remain – the one most important walking billboard. We are in the people industry. Actually, all business is in fact a „people-business“. Man is selling to another man, right? Not to a robot. Therefore the living person must be the beginning and the end of everything. Frankly, I try to be more focused on the „right now“ rather than making huge philosophy about tomorrow. As it turns out, tomorrow is just another „today“. Think about it. You will postpone something you can do today for tomorrow - and tomorrow when you wake up, it will be but just another „today“. Tomorrow I could be run over by a track, or win a Jack pot on Lottery. Or, win a Jack-pot AND get run over by a track... Lol. All we got is right now. I was delighted to have been be given a chance to do this interview. Thank you Wall Street International for the opportunity to share my love for Croatia with the world, and I very much look forward to making great things happen here! Success is the best kind of marketing. And the good old-fashioned winning is a very close-second!

God bless you all.