Law Firm ILN-telligence Podcast | Cosmina Romelia Aron and Ioana Sebestin-Nazâru, PETERKA & PARTNERS, Romania

August 17th, 2023

Law Firm ILN-telligence Podcast | Cosmina Romelia Aron and Ioana Sebestin-Nazâru, PETERKA & PARTNERS, Romania

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Cosmina Romelia Aron and Ioana Sebestin-Nazâru are partners with PETERKA & PARTNERS in Romania, where they represent the ILN. In this episode, Lindsay discusses with Cosmina and Ioana the adaptability that having a diverse offering gives them, and how things have changed for them as lawyers and as friends, as well as what they have learned.

You can listen to the podcast here, or we’ve provided a transcript of the highlights below.

Lindsay: Hello and welcome to the Law Firm Intelligence podcast, I am your host, Lindsay Griffiths, Executive Director of The International Lawyers Network. We have two guests for you this week, Cosmina Aron and Ioana Sebestin from PETERKA PARTNERS in Bucharest, Romania, we’re really excited to have you both here this week. Thank you so much for joining us. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about your firm and your practice?

Cosmina: Hi Lindsay.

Lindsay: Hi.

Cosmina: Thank you for inviting us. This is Cosmina, with my colleague Ioana Sebestin, and we are happy to be here and to have a talk with you. So, as I said, I’m Cosmina Aron, and for the last, actually more than 10 years I’ve been managing the Bucharest office of PETERKA PARTNERS. As you might know, PETERKA PARTNERS is a regional law firm, an international regional law firm with a presence in central and Eastern Europe. We have around nine offices.

Now we are more or less present in Russia, so we closed somehow Russia, so we have only nine. Recently we have opened Croatia and we are very proud of it. In terms of practice, I’m a corporate M&A lawyer at my origin, but during the last years I’ve been managing the office, so more or less I’ve been doing a lot of things in various areas. Ioana, please?

Ioana: So, hi again, Lindsay, thank you for inviting me and for having this conversation with me, Lindsay. And I’m Ioana Sebestin, you have not heard of me so far. I am deputy director of the PETERKA PARTNERS, Bucharest office. I have been with Cosmina for 10 years doing this. It was a very interesting and challenging time.

Cosmina: Even before we used to work together actually.

Ioana: Yes, she’s been my mentor, I’ve been her junior lawyer.

Lindsay: Oh, wow.

Cosmina: Yes, in the previous law firm we used to work together as well.

Lindsay: That’s very cool.

Ioana: It was because to be honest, I took-

Cosmina: She did come on.

Ioana: It is, it’s just that at that moment it really was because I took the job because of Cosmina because I liked her a lot and I said, “Yes, I have a lot to learn from her.” We are still doing a lot of things together and learning and developing and everything.

Lindsay: That’s wonderful.

Ioana: Yes. And as far as my practice is concerned, I’ve been lucky enough to try several domains, I have to admit, and it’s been very challenging, but on the other hand very satisfying. For the last years I’ve worked more on labor law, I can say this is my main practice. But, due to the concept of all open and how we are working and the Romanian market, which is quite specific, we always try to work and try to develop in many domains and be faced with everything that’s new. And always prepare to maybe change the domain. So yes, labor law. I’m doing corporate and commercial domains, basically. But in the past I also tried competition a lot, also when I was a junior Cosmina even sent me to court for me to be certain if I liked it or not. So yes, it’s very interesting and very nice.

Lindsay: That must be a benefit to your clients too, to be so well-rounded.

Ioana: Yes, and I think one of the things that I saw when I was just a junior lawyer and I considered plus, to better understand the business of the clients. And by that, also trying to learn, okay in school when Cosmina took me, to say all the time you have to look in the books, but that’s it. And it was very interesting to try and put what you learn into practice, because I was lost-

Cosmina: We were all lost at the beginning.

Ioana: Yes. We did not do too much practice in university, we did, but it’s something else than-

Cosmina: Close to zero actually.

Ioana: Yes. Now times changed a little bit, but then we had no practice, and like Cosmina said it’s good that you know where to look in the books. But we need you to learn to do things and also to try to understand what the clients are doing, and how we can help them. Yes, it helps a lot, because in our day-to-day business clients come in with different issues. And it’s true, all of us have some domains in which we are more or less experts because we are working on them, but there are questions that it’s better to know about it, at least from where to better understand the problem, and then work with somebody that is an expert on this. But it helps, at least at this stage, to understand the client and the needs.

Cosmina: Yes, to have some overall picture I would say, because it’s quite… In a transaction for example, it’s really important to be able to identify possibly legal issues so that you know where to go and in which domain it should be investigated more or something like that. But I would just like to add that for you to understand Lindsay, in Romania we are a bit different than in the US. Typically, US local lawyers have a lot of focus on certain domains, lawyers are specialized, very specialized. I know this from, I learn that all the time, it’s shocking for some US lawyers when I’m telling them that I’m doing corporate, I’m doing real estate, and sometimes labor. It’s very difficult for them to understand that someone can do so many things. But most probably due to the market and the fact that we are quite a young country in terms of legal services because the lawyers’ profession started in this structure and in this sense after the 1990s.

So, I think the first law firm in Romania was created in 1992, but it started in 1995 basically they started to exist as such, and to take over the Western model. So, we are quite used to diverse domains, and it doesn’t happen very often that some particular lawyer does only one thing. So at least two fields you need to cover. It’s also about diversity, it’s like a part of the region, and we look at it from a practical perspective as well.

For example, when I joined PETERKA, because in the former law firm, we had too much exposure to real estate, so when the crisis came we had to make a move because we didn’t have saved that much at the time. So, this is actually the reason I’m here, otherwise, I would have been still there probably. Yes, so we got used to this diversity, it’s maybe a protection vision that we took because like this we can survive the market. It’s a very challenging market and you never know if you will have enough work in a certain domain, so we have to be prepared for everything actually.

Ioana: It really was constant training, Lindsay.

Cosmina: Yes.

Lindsay: That makes a lot of sense, and that leads to one of my other questions. I know we see that with, as you say, a lot of the US firms where there’ll be a constriction in the market and so corporate lawyers won’t have a lot of work to do because that’s the only area of practice that they focus on. So, can you talk to us a bit about the current state of the market and what that means for you and your clients? Is that something that has a big impact? Or, because you are so diversified you’re able to just pivot and work with them as clients because you practice in several different areas and so you’re really just responding to the needs of the market as a whole?

Cosmina: Yes, that helps a lot actually, because we are working a lot these days on day-to-day matters. Day-to-day matters is everything, corporate labor contracts, competition, and real estate, all together in a small-

Ioana: Litigation.

Cosmina: Litigation, on a daily basis, so yes, it helped a lot actually. Without this, we wouldn’t have been able to survive the crisis and the changing of the market. Because definitely, the market has changed a lot during the last years. There are a lot of challenges. In terms of everything, in terms of people, in terms of business, in terms of money, in terms of-

Ioana: In terms of legislation.

Cosmina: Legislation, in terms of digitalization and the approach to business. So, there are so many changes that we are facing every day, but this diversity and this adaptability I would call it, helped us a lot. Because it happens quite often that we are trying new domains. Of course, as Ioana said, we have people who are specialized in real estate, corporate, in comfortable or some other things. But this doesn’t mean that they are not able to do something else. Basically, we are trying to… Even when we are doing new hiring, we are all the time looking for these kinds of people that are willing and able to adapt. This happened in the past, some of our colleagues left the firm because they said it was too much diversity.

Ioana: Yes, and you need to keep up. It’s tiring at some point, because you’re like, “You know, I just want to do this because this I know. It’s becoming easy, I can predict most of the things. Why not have a comfortable life doing this what I’ve learned?” No, you cannot because you need to adapt. And things are changing in all fields like Cosmina said, I totally agree with her. And you need to keep up because in the end, I think it’s like in life, you need to try to do your best, but you need to understand that you need to adapt.

Cosmina: Like cooking, for example, we had to adapt, yes? So, this is… We have been living with some COVID for years now, it’s not exactly COVID.

Ioana: No, but it’s new things like the pandemic, and after the pandemic then we had this not great position with the war.

Cosmina: Yes, with the war, of course. So, all the time there is something.

Lindsay: You were already ready for a pandemic because you were already adapting?

Ioana: Yes.

Cosmina: When we were in school they were telling us that we… Because we are the generation after Ceaușescu, so they were telling us… I was ten when Ceaușescu died. So, they were telling us, “You are the new generation, we are going to experiment everything on you.” So, I amount first generation on which-

Ioana: Not really Cosmina, they kept saying the same thing for me, and I’m four years after. They kept the speech for a few generations actually, so it’s okay.

Lindsay: You took that seriously?

Ioana: Yes, we did.

Lindsay: Yes.

Ioana: For some time, we needed to get really serious, and we were like, “Yes, we know this, we’re the sacrifice.”

Cosmina: Yes, we switched from Russian in school to English.

Lindsay: Wow, that’s a big change.

Ioana: Yes. I didn’t have the opportunity to gain experience in Russian, but I was the first… I was the first to learn that year.

Lindsay: Wow. Yes, wow!

Ioana: All of a sudden we became the English generation.

Lindsay: Yes, that’s a big change.

Ioana: My husband, for example, who’s three years older than me, studied Russian.

Lindsay: Yes, and then it depends on who you’re doing business with.

Ioana: Yes.

Cosmina: Yes, it depends on a lot, but in PETERKA PARTNERS, I have to say we have many generations of violence. So, it really doesn’t have this veneer, or who is worried about the language. Generally, we speak English, or we speak French. And, when you’re at a professional level when you’re dealing with people, at a certain level, you’re speaking the same language. I have to admit, for me at least, I was very lucky to be able to work in this kind of international environment because definitely can see that people are people in the end, and the good ones are good, irrespective of where they are born, irrespective of their background. And this is the main point for us to keep going. Because you know in the end that there are good people, and not only, in the end, to collaborate with some good people.

Lindsay: I agree.

Cosmina: It’s an experience.

Lindsay: Yes, I agree. So, what is your biggest challenge at the moment?

Cosmina: I think Ioana already answered the question, keeping up is the biggest challenge.

Lindsay: True.

Cosmina: And you said something else Lindsay and you’re right, because all the clients are also trying to adapt because the market is changing. And we have to adapt together with them and to be able to help them because all the time, even in the pandemic we’re discussing, we are not able to assist a client when it needs, then why do you need a lawyer?

Ioana: I still remember one, it’s a client that I used to have in the past. He was pushing a lot and all the time I was-

Cosmina: Yes, he pushed regularly.

Ioana: He pushed a lot. Yeah, I’m surprised maybe. So, I was very afraid because I was very young, and I was afraid that we would make a mistake. I was telling him, “Look, you know, you are pushing me too much, I’m not able to check everything.” He was like, “Trust me, it’s better to have the less perfect contract when you need it, rather than having the perfect contract when you don’t need it anymore.” So, this is still valid. I’m still in contact with that client, maybe he will hear me somehow.

Cosmina: He was very right.

Ioana: Yes, at the time I was like, “Oh my God, it’s not possible. I didn’t agree too much because he was really pushy. And for me-

Cosmina: Under pressure, yes.

Ioana: Under a lot of pressure, I was very young, I was not very sure of what I knew and what I didn’t know. So yes, but it’s true, you need to be there in time to provide business advice. And this has changed a lot, the clients need pragmatic, proactive advice, they don’t need anymore these kinds of long memos explaining the legislation and teaching them because the client is the manager. The client is not… Of course, he can be something, an advisor, but still is there as a manager, a legal manager. So, he doesn’t have time to check the doctrine, to think about theories, he wants to get to the point advice and then find a solution, and that’s it.

When I started my career in the French law firm, we used to have a completely different approach. We were writing pages, due diligence is two hundred pages, four hundred pages. I remember we once had an issue with transferring the due diligence report because it was so big that the system did not allow it.

Cosmina: Yes, it’s true.

Ioana: It was during privatization, and it was quite complicated to send a report, apparently. I was not in charge, I was very young at the time, but I heard that they had difficulties sending the report to the client. So now it’s no longer the case, we have a due diligence report in a few pages and it’s just a table with colors, it’s green or yellow or red, or red flag, that’s all. So, this has changed a lot, I think. And in a way, it’s better. For the client, I think it’s more useful because in the end anyhow they read only the executive summary in the past. No one was reading the entire report, only in case there was an issue. But now they don’t need it.

If there is no issue written in the report, they will come back to you and ask you why there is no issue mentioned. Which, I like this approach somewhat better because it means that our work is more efficient and we are focused on results and on issues, not description, yes? Because it took a lot of time to describe all the matters that in the end were completely irrelevant. So, this has changed a lot and I think it’s a good thing.

Cosmina: Yes, the profession changed a lot. In the past, you were more like an advisor writing pages and papers. But in the past years, indeed we have become more active and more involved in the business of the client. And it’s mandatory somehow to understand-

Ioana: In business maybe, in the business of client.

Cosmina: Yes.

Ioana: Because in the past they were looking at us as their law firm, now we are part of the team. Even if we are external lawyers. So, they’re involving the lawyers more in the business due to this pragmatism actually, because in order to be pragmatic and to be straight to the point you need to know the business. You cannot put there all the disclaimers, if and when. No, no, no, you need to know if it’s if or when. This is clear, so that’s why we are more involved, and the clients are also more open-minded in this.

Lindsay: It sounds like it makes the work much more interesting too.

Cosmina: Yes, it really is, because this is a very interesting job and profession. It changed a lot that day, of course, it also changed the pace. So, we don’t have two weeks to write a memo, we have to do it in a few days. So, it is more pressure somehow, but on the other hand, you are more open in discussions with the clients. Like, “Okay, what do you need? How can I provide you with this? Can you give me more information on this?” It’s a more open channel with the client than it used to be. You just receive the task, maybe you have something or not, and then you prepare something, and you write-

Ioana: It was theoretical.

Cosmina: And also, let’s not forget the fact that in the past we did not have so many digital tools, not in Romania. Yes, we had nothing. Do you still remember the official…

Ioana: Yes, Cosmina used to send me when I was a junior, she was like, “Do you still have your library card?” It was like, “Yes.” “Come on, we need these books, you need to go and take them because we don’t have them.” Okay. So, I went to the library to get some materials, because we could not have all the official, all the books and so on and so forth.

Cosmina: And Hugo was not very friendly at the time.

Lindsay: That’s amazing.

Ioana: Yes.

Lindsay: Wow!

Ioana: We were checking the official visits on a daily basis, just seeing what’s new. Because the legislative program that we used to have, they were not updated.

Cosmina: No.

Ioana: So, they were something like one or two weeks behind somehow.

Lindsay: And that takes a lot of extra time too.

Cosmina: Yes, of course.

Ioana: But things have changed now, it’s really…

Cosmina: So, for us, we have to embrace digitalization.

Ioana: Yes, a lot.

Cosmina: We have the legislative programs, and we have the case law, which is available in the pack, if you’re just looking and finding something, but not all the time you have to go directly to the websites of the courts. So yes, it helped a lot because you have more, and you can get more information in a quicker time.

Ioana: It helps, being more efficient.

Cosmina: Yes.

Lindsay: Absolutely.

Ioana: Of course, you need to keep up with all of these changes because if you are an old-fashioned lawyer it might be difficult.

Lindsay: Yes, absolutely. And even more so then if you’re trying to keep up with multiple practices.

Cosmina: Yes, but you have to Lindsay, because you have a client that maybe wants a change, and then because you don’t know… This is linked to something else, and because you agree with making some changes before you may seem irrelevant. You are going to have a problem. He might have a problem with authorization. So that’s why when somebody’s asking something, you’re calling from the other room or calling the text advisor or something like this. So, it’s more dynamic because this is how we can try and prevent other issues. So yes, it is challenging, but as I said, it’s also more dynamic.

Ioana: The legislation doesn’t help us too much, because all the time we have legislative changes. At least text, legislation is changing all the time. Now, I’d never be able to say it like this, or this is like that, just because one week ago or two weeks ago we did it for a client. No, no, you have to check again because you don’t know what happened two weeks ago.

Cosmina: Yes.

Lindsay: That’s amazing.

Cosmina: Yes, this is typical of underdeveloped countries. Under continuous development.

Lindsay: So, given all of that and all of the work you’re doing, do you think it’s possible to have what they call a work/life balance, and what does that even mean?

Cosmina: Sure. Sure.

Lindsay: Do you? Okay, all right, so what does that look like?

Cosmina: Yes, I think I have balanced a bit-

Ioana: If you want I can start on this because for me it’s in here. I don’t have to think, I can…

Cosmina: So, work/life balance appeared like a necessity. In the past we had no idea what it means to have a work/life balance, what does that even mean? I just wanted to have to work, faster, faster, and work and see different things and be involved in negotiations and grow up.

Ioana: Yes. To grow, that was the main idea, just to grow and to work and work nights, it’s what’s natural. For all my colleagues through the generations, it was like it was. But then there is some point when you keep up at this level, and you notice that you are all the time tired. By the way, we did not have the notion of burnout, we did not know what this is, and it’s rather new in Romania, this concept, but definitely after you keep up with this, you’re exhausted. And at some point, you stop feeling the need to check your emails at ten in the evening. So, this is how it started. And you start like, maybe it’s not that bad to see my friends I did not see in six months.

The first step after you impose some limits, you decide that, look, I can work until seven, it’s okay, nothing is going to… The law firm is going to be okay even if I’m not going to sleep there anymore. So, I have my colleagues, okay, they can help me. Because all the time it was like, “Ioana, you have to learn to delegate.” Okay. So yes, it started step by step and in the end, I’ve noticed that it’s an improvement. It’s an improvement in how I see work, how I feel, and of course, for me, I have to admit that before these talking, and before the pandemic. And it was like, I need to be the best version I can in every day. If I’m exhausted all the time and I can barely get up out of bed, this is not going to help me, it’s not going to help the law firm, it’s not going to help my colleagues, my friends, my family.

So it was, let me process for me personally, because I think, okay, you have to do this. And I enjoyed my work, but I have something else besides the work. And there are things that make me happy. Yes, my job makes me happy, but I also have my friends, my husband, and I have my family. So, they take time, and I cannot be getting worn, and I can barely talk. Of course, it happens from time to time, I’m not going to lie, it happened, but this should not be the rule, this should be the exception.

And it also changed a lot probably because the rules also changed, because in the past everybody was like, “We need to grow, we need to be big.” And slowly, slowly, everybody started, we need to take time, we need to be careful. We even receive messages from this respect, like, “Okay, you need to take a vacation, everybody should not reach burnout.” Or something like this. So, everybody learned from this. So yes, work balance is a necessity. So, before all this discussion it was a necessity, and I think even if in our profession, in which we know that we have some predisposition with control, work, and sales, we’re not in the best of jobs as far as this is concerned, mentally. So, I think even in the past we tried to do this step by step.

So, it was a necessity, it was something that showed up after a period in which you have to learn about yourself. As I said, also from inside the law firm we have these kinds of things. So, it was not only in our office, but it was also in all levels, from the high levels-

Cosmina: In most law firms there is a change in this respect. I think the approach has changed in the meantime during the last years, because in the past they had this opinion that lawyers should work a lot and long hours and everything, but now I think everyone is trying to understand whether these long hours and really needed and whether you can do better and come up to some balance.

Ioana: The pandemic was like a warning call.

Cosmina: Yes, even before the pandemic.

Ioana: Even before, but the pandemic I think was a warning call, and that’s why it changed so much, especially… I have to admit, in the past, at least not as far as I know, Romania did not have these kinds of discussions. Of course, we discussed it among ourselves.

Cosmina: Yes, but there were no such official discussions or public discussions I would say. No one was talking about these things. We all knew that in all law firms, there were long hours, and then lawyers were supposed to work no matter what, during the weekends. If you had work and you had a client, you had to serve the client and there was no limit. But now it’s-

Ioana: Different.

Cosmina: It’s different, I think all over. I don’t know. We can talk about ourselves, but I can see from others that they are also-

Ioana: Also from the clients, I have to-

Cosmina: The clients are educated. It depends, they can be educated, it depends on the approach.

Ioana: I don’t know, in the past everything was urgent.

Cosmina: It depends on the client, of course.

Ioana: It depends on the client, and everything in the past was urgent. Right now, people realize that we are people, and we have our limits. We need to do well. Yes, we work, we have-

Cosmina: Or maybe the clients also got tired.

Ioana: That’s why I’m saying that people realize that everybody, we are all humans. And even in big business, my personal opinion is that irrespective of how big a business is, it’s still conducted by people.

Cosmina: Yes.

Ioana: You have people in there. We are social animals, so this is the idea that we need to understand each other and cooperate with each other. Yes, I think also the clients have changed. It’s not the same approach we used to have in the past.

Lindsay: I completely agree. So, what do you think the future of the legal market will look like?

Ioana: This is a tough one.

Lindsay: I know, predict the future.

Ioana: Yes, Cosmina.

Cosmina: Oh, my God. It would be somehow; I think different I would say. Increasingly different, increasingly challenging, we need to be more digital, even more pragmatic I would say. Because this is a trend that we have started already, and then in the end it will probably be too straightforward. I estimate that it will be like this, I don’t know. I don’t have a crystal globe, but I think it will go even further. It will be less formalistic; this we have already seen. Also, the relationship between the clients and the lawyers. Definitely, it’s more friendly, without being straight to the point, this is the word, I think. And extremely competitive, I would say. In Romania, we are used to the competition. It’s already been competitive, but I think it will be even more competitive.

Ioana: And the generations to come.

Cosmina: Yes.

Ioana: When you ask what the different markets are going to be like, we need to think about what the new clients are going to be like because we are not going to be that new anymore.

Cosmina: The new clients will be like and how the new lawyers will be because it’s both.

Ioana: Yes.

Cosmina: Our teams, because we’re getting old now.

Ioana: You cannot say that Cosmina.

Cosmina: It’s not a problem, but we have to face it. And at the same time, the clients are getting old, so new generations are coming. New generations are completely different, they know what they want compared to us, we didn’t know at all. They know how to sell themselves. They impose a lot of limits. They have precise requirements, and they are…

Ioana: I like it, to be honest, it took us years to even reach their level, you know? Because we had so much access to information, and the good ones really knew what to read and to understand.

Cosmina: The problem is that there are not as many good ones, this is the problem, I would say. Because we don’t want… At least in Romania, we are facing this issue that not too many young people want to go to law school, or at least there was a period during which there were not too many there, and they don’t want to become lawyers. Now I heard that actually there is an increase, there are increased students that would like to go to law school, I heard recently. I don’t know. Which would be good because there would be some diversity.

But on the other hand, there are also a lot that would go to law school, but afterward, they would choose to do something else like business or whatever, or become a judge, or magistrate, and to follow the public career in the public field. So, we are also facing this personal issue because there are fewer and fewer lawyers willing to learn, this is the biggest challenge I think. The ones who are good, they are very good. They are very good, and they are very pragmatic, and they know what they want, they know-

Ioana: They are very focused.

Cosmina: Focused, yes, this is the word, exactly.

Ioana: They are focused, and they want to learn, and they want to grow big. And on the other hand, they don’t want to sacrifice their personal life, which is a big ask if you ask me.

Lindsay: Yes.

Ioana: It took us years to understand it, but they knew it from the start. And they know that they have this work/life balance. For them it’s a no-go, they want to learn, but they want to learn in working hours, and they want to be challenged all the time, so they are not for doing something, these things. And yes, their mind works a little differently. They don’t necessarily have this patience for learning or for these kinds of things because they have access to the information more quickly, and then they want to do things at their pace. And their pace is not similar to the pace that we used to have at their age.

So yes, it’s going to be interesting to see them grow, where they are going to go, to see the clients, where they are going to go, to see the businesses, where they are going to go. Because I know there are big debates regarding Ai and what’s going to happen and so on and so forth. But what nobody’s saying is the fact that the younger generation is not willing to do this repetitive work, which is small work, which is not interesting work. Of course, everybody’s going to say, “Yeah, but the small and repetitive work has its purpose.” Maybe, maybe not, we will see.

Cosmina: It has to a certain extent.

Ioana: I don’t think anything whatever you have to do it in order to become a better lawyer, you necessarily have to send in some forms to the state. So, I think it’s debatable, we need to see how it’s going to go but it’s going to be interesting. For us, we started from the beginning we had all that, the market and do all these things, so we are going to see, it’s not going to be something new. No, I don’t think AI is going to take the place of the younger generations. I think it’s going to be more like a tool to help us because we are going to need help. Things are going to be more complicated, there are going to be more on the digital business, and I think it will be more on this part.

So, it’s up to us whether we are going to adapt or not. It’s about everybody. So, I don’t think it’s something that is going to… Like, from tomorrow I am not going to have a lawyer. Really? I don’t think so. I understand that these topics are really in fashion, that’s okay, we’re still in reality like a pandemic, but I think we should not go there at full speed and consider that this is a bad thing. Yes, we should be careful. Yes, we should consider that this should be in our best interest, not against us.

Because of this, in the end, we are people, and we are collaborating with people. And this is not going to change overnight, and we are not going to keep up. Of course, we did not see each other for two years, everything was locked. But then we had this, we were on all the time on the phones. It was not like I was staying on the phone at home and working on my computer and not talking with anybody. I was all the time in meetings, all the time on the phone with everybody. I was on the phone even more than I am now.

Let’s be honest, it’s not like we’re not going to have our connections and not discuss. This is our strength. We need to stick together and it’s not going to change. Maybe, and if after this pandemic we are willing to see change, to try different things.

Cosmina: Yes, you know Lindsay, you remember last year in Amsterdam it was really amazing how people wanted to talk to each other. I’ve been attending ILN for more than 10 years, but last year it was really maybe one of the best conferences in Amsterdam due to this issue actually, because everyone was eager to talk. No one was bored. Everyone wanted to say something, mingle.

Lindsay: They missed that human connection.

Cosmina: Yes.

Lindsay: Yes, so that’s never going to go away, I agree with you. Even the people who were fine being at home I think had really missed being apart.

Ioana: Yes, definitely, because you need that connection. I think it’s part of who we are. So okay, maybe you are not that social, but you still need human connection.

Lindsay: Absolutely.

Ioana: It doesn’t mean that you don’t enjoy all the big parties, but still you are going to some parties, you still have your friends and family and so on and so forth. This is part of who we are, and we cannot expect a future so different from this perspective. Yes, the concepts are going to be more mathematical, and they are going to go even further, and they are maybe even going to challenge the fundamentals that we have, and they are going to think about these two things. But that’s natural, that’s good. If we did not have that we would not be, or never would go-

Cosmina: No evolution.

Ioana: Yes, no rockets, no satellites, no going to Mars, no anything. So, I think it’s natural. And also, some reactions that we are scared of, yes, it’s also natural but it’s part of the growth. We cannot say that growing is something that is comfortable, it’s like the opposite.

Lindsay: Absolutely.

Ioana: But it’s going to be definitely interesting.

Lindsay: Absolutely. So, to wrap up I always like to ask, what is one thing that you’re enjoying right now that has nothing to do with work?

Ioana: Right now, right now?

Lindsay: It doesn’t have to be right this very second, but in general in your life.

Ioana: Oh, there are many things Lindsay.

Cosmina: Oh, in my life, yes. They are… Can I answer?

Ioana: Yes, of course.

Cosmina: We are at the point, both of us, somehow, because we are also friends, so we know each other when we are trying to understand who we are for real and do what we want to do for the future. This is interesting, because we started this prov some years ago, but now we are… Last year was quite an important year, I don’t know why. Now we are continuing this search somehow for who we are, and what we want to do. Which is interesting. You can add…

Ioana: I totally agree with you. So, the past years, it’s like, one to evolve. At some point, you need to stop and ask yourself where you are going and what you are doing, and we are not talking professionally, we are talking human beings. What we like, what we could improve, what could we try new? Did I really enjoy that, or did I just because it was fashionable? Yes. So yes, last year was an introspection year, and this year is more like let’s put up the business and move forward. Assuming the result that you get last year, it’s like, this year I’m going to be acknowledging that I am like this, and let’s see what we can do from this. Yes. They were very interesting years from this perspective, I have to admit. It was nice, and it is nice. Because you take life differently now.

Lindsay: Yes.

Ioana: In the past, everything was a tragedy and drama and fun-

Cosmina: We lived through a lot of dramas to get here.

Ioana: Yes.

Cosmina: Professionally rather than… But now there are not so many dramas.

Ioana: Yes, because life is like what I can do more to be happy.

Lindsay: I like that.

Ioana: And the focus changed a lot. And it helps when you’re not that focused on eternal, and we are more focused on internal and internal life. And as long as you’re okay, I think it’s okay also around you. Yes. It is rather interesting. We have so many books read on psychology about those things. Personal development is our project.

Lindsay: I love that, that’s really good.

Ioana: That’s it, we’re all done.

Lindsay: That’s really cool.

Ioana: Yes.

Lindsay: I love that you’re doing that together.

Ioana: You’re welcome.

Lindsay: I might join in. I need it.

Cosmina: Everybody needs it, I think.

Lindsay: Oh, I think you’re right.

Cosmina: It’s a lot of fun because like I said, it’s no more drama. Here, it’s all acceptance. We don’t have a problem, all of them we say, “Okay, why do you have so many people gasping around us?” Because we’re like this, so natural.

Ioana: Yes, you need to accept who you are actually, I think, and to… Understatement, I think.

Lindsay: That’s very cool.

Ioana: For your actions, yes.

Lindsay: I love that.

Ioana: But we have not changed, this is clear. The character cannot change a lot.

Lindsay: Of course, well that’s part of the acceptance.

Cosmina: Yes, but you know, it’s so great to see people that they’re doing it rather quickly than we are. Without getting too many dramas on the way.

Lindsay: Yes.

Ioana: Yes, maybe they have had enough time to do it, we have a lot of extra hours.

Cosmina: Yes, definitely. In the past years, we have had to do it a lot.

Ioana: Yes. But it’s better to do it even later than never, I think.

Lindsay: That’s right. There’s no time like the present, as they say.

Cosmina: No, I like the present, that’s why the questions about the future for me are, make me like the ending of a story. Okay, I’m going to tell you how it is, but everything can change in an instant over the years, so okay. But in fact, I think it’s more important every moment and every day to be the best that you can be and move from there.

Lindsay: Absolutely.

Cosmina: Because really nothing is certain in this world. And we are somehow lucky, and we should enjoy the things that we have. It took us some time to realize.

Lindsay: That’s great. Well, thank you both so much for joining us this week. I really appreciate it; this has been a great conversation.

Cosmina: Thank you, Lindsay.

Ioana: Thank you for the invitation. It was very nice talking to you.

Cosmina: Yes.

Lindsay: And thank you so much to our listeners as well. We’ll be back next week with another guest, and in the meantime, please take a moment to rate, review and subscribe on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts. Thank you very much.

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