Vassilis Mentzelopoulos (VM) is the next interview of the DUBAI PROFILE NEWS Blog. After passing from different industries such as Radio Producer, Civil Engineer and Event Organizer, both in Greece and United Arab Emirates he has settled down AMUSE EVENTS (www.amuse.gr) in Athens, Greece. A trip from Athens, to Abu Dhabi-Dubai and back in Athens. Sparkling events is his life. Let’s share some of his light!
DPN: Vassilis, you started your career as a civil engineer, you moved into radio production and you ended up in the events industry. Which of all the above marked your life?
VM: I believe that entering the magic world of media through the radio production really marked my life and showed me the path that I would want to follow for the rest of my business life.
DPN: A life trip from Athens to Abu Dhabi and from Abu Dhabi to Dubai and back in Athens. Describe us what role each city played for you in your life.
VM: Athens is the city I was born at and the place of my friends and family. Abu Dhabi was my first working abroad experience and it happened to me when I was already 42 years old. It was a period that I wanted to explore new people and working environments and I believe that the capital of UAE was very welcoming and friendly. Moving to Dubai proved to be not so successful as I thought it would, mainly due to the world crisis and also due to some false choices in business associates. However it proved to be a school of how to establish your own company in a foreign country and also how not to be fooled by those who claim to be your friends or your business allies but act totally opposite than that. Finally returning back home, getting married and running along with my wife our own event management company seems to be the wisest decision ever.
DPN: Is United Arab Emirates the sparkling star of the Middle East?
VM: U.A.E. is a unique place that makes the newcomer to feel dazed by its wealth and achievements. It is surely the sparkling star of the Middle East but one needs to be extremely cautious because not everything that sparkles over there is gold.
DPN: During your career as a radio producer you cooperated with big names from the global showbiz industry. Who was the most interesting one?
VM: Actually as a promoter of concerts I had the opportunity to cooperate with huge names of pop and rock music such as: Shirley Bassey, Dionne Warwick, Dianna Ross, Jerry Lee Lewis, Barry White, Tina Turner, Carlos Santana, Debbie Harry, Mick Fleetwood e.t.c. Most of them were unique personalities and very interesting characters. The one who I admire most and felt very lucky to be with for three days was Frank Sinatra who we invited for a concert in Athens Olympic Stadium back in May 1992, 19 years ago.
DPN: A number of events worldwide are consisting your portfolio up to now. Which one was the most successful one?
VM: I believe that two were the most successful events I was lucky to be the producer. The first one was the 2004 Athens New Years Eve show in Syntagma square with a live audience of 50,000 which we broadcasted to more than 70 countries. The second one was the inauguration event of the Alexandrian Library in Egypt in 2002 with more than 50 Kings and Presidents of the world and a live broadcasting to more than a 100 countries.
DPN: Currently you are managing AMUSE EVENTS (www.amuse.gr), an event company in Athens. Tell us some things about your company.
VM: Amuse Concept Events was established by my wife Elli in October 2001. Since 2009 we are running the company together joining our forces and expertise in the magical world of P.R. and Events. Our major clients are Philip Morris, The Greek Lottery Organization, Eurobank and Cosmote.
DPN: Who was your hero when you were a child?
VM: I don’t think that I had one hero but I do remember that all my heroes were good and noble who sacrificed themselves to serve humanity.
DPN: What do you think are your three best qualities? Your three worst?
VM: That’s a difficult one. Let’s start with the worst first: Bad tempered, Arrogant sometimes, can’t lose my excess weight. Regarding the best now: Hard worker, persistent, honest and just.
DPN: What have been the three biggest news events during your lifetime and why?
VM: Succeeding in the entering exams for the Greek Polytechnic School and getting my degree from it cause it was something that made my parents proud of me and made me feel like a member of a secret elite called engineers. Playing for the first time in a night club as a professional DJ and doing my first radio show cause I managed to turn my hobby into a profession.
DPN: What’s the highest honor or award you’ve ever received?
VM: The highest award was the European best event award for the Athens 2004 New Years Eve Show.
DPN: What things frighten you?
VM: To end up in jail or a mental institution, losing my family, losing my faith in me
DPN: What do you think has stayed the same about you throughout life? What do you think has changed?
VM: I believe that I have remained almost the same throughout all those years refusing to really grow up and follow the necessary rules and probably this is the reason why I am into the Events business after all. What seems to have changed unfortunately is my de facto faith and trust in people
DPN: If you could go back to any age, which age would it be and why?
VM: It would be the age right after the end of my studies where your journey begins free of learning and studying responsibilities when you actually believe that the whole world is yours to chose from what you really want to do with your life.
DPN: What do you feel have been the important successes in your life?
VM: It was my decision to get married to a woman that I both love and respect. I see things in a totally different way and this has made me more persistent and successful than I have ever been before.
DPN: If a young person came to you asking what’s the most important thing for living a good life, what would you say?
VM: I would say that it would be to live your life feeling free, doing exactly what your heart advises you and your only rule should be never to hurt anyone else when doing so.
DPN: Do you think a person needs to first overcome serious setbacks or challenges to be truly successful?
VM: I believe that setbacks and challenges never stop to show up whether you are successful or not. You just have to keep on trying to solve all problems ahead no matter what.
DPN: In what way is it important to know your limitations in your life or career?
VM: I don’t think that there should be any limitation in our life or career except of course of the moral ones and the ones that keep us within the law. We should think out of the box and act as if there are no barriers in our minds or free will. That’s the only way to achieve our goals and to make a difference out of our life.
DPN: Organizing events means loads of stress as you need to deal with a number of different people. How do you deal with that?
VM: I yell and shout a lot to my crew always being one step ahead checking everyone’s responsibilities and tasks to make sure that there are no left outs. This is the only way to control my stress, since I know that there is no reason for me to be stressful.
DPN: Take us through an interesting project you have worked on recently.
VM: We have been assigned by the Corporate Responsibility Department of the Greek Lottery Company to organise several entertainment events in several Greek cities for the orphan children of those cities. For that purpose we have organised a full day of activities and entertainment for the different age groups of the children starting with infants and ending with teenagers. We have concluded the two first events in Athens and Thessaloniki and I am very happy with the content that we have proposed and produced and of course with the happy moments that we managed to offer to those kids. The event included puppets and marionettes, several interactive activities such as cooking, painting, gift making, dancing lessons, make up, hair styling and nails for the girls. A karaoke contest named OPAP spring idol with many participants hosted by a TV celebrity and me and the whole event ends with a concert of a famous Greek pop group while all children get a giveaway bag with presents upon their departure. Kids menu lunch boxes are given during lunch and of course a team of 35 animators create a festive environment throughout the whole day. Our next stops will be Creta, Patras, Ioannina and Athens once again.
DPN: Describe a situation in your life where everything went totally wrong.
VM: That leads me back to Dubai and my decision to establish an Event Management company over there. The first attempt was with a Greek production company which wanted to expand to the middle East so we started up together CMX events which lasted roughly for six months since The Greek production company decided to back off afraid of the global crisis that had just occurred at that time. The second was with a local who was a member of Dubai government and wanted his son to partner an event management company so we started up Amuse UAE which again was a total disaster due to the fact that the local guys (father and son) expected me not only to run the company and come up with all the ideas needed for our presentations but also find the clients for the company since they didn’t want to ask for any favors from their friends the other members of Dubai government. (Of course this detail was not made clear to me from the beginning of our collaboration but only when they decided that they didn’t want to pay any more expenses of the company eight months after we started). It took me more than it should but I finally understood that I should either change profession or country and I decided to change the second one and return home