Christo Popov, Founder, and CEO, Fast Track
Currently Founder and CEO of Fast Track – applying the Fast Track system to over 5000 companies in 27 countries.
“To create a strong business, you need to master two things, first one is to create energy, another one is to build a character.” These words of wisdom are given to us by a business expert and our guest for today’s episode, Christo Popov. Christo is a very learned and experienced person in the field of business. He has worked with over 25 startups and knows about every nerve of a business. He is the Founder and CEO of Fast Track, a leading consulting company. He has also worked with Shell and SABMiller. He has also spent a year in India studying Vedanta, Bhagavad Gita, Buddhism, and Zen. He is a member of YPO.
About Fast Track
Fast Track is a consultancy firm which was founded seven years ago. Christo claims that the success of Fast Track is beyond his expectations and they are currently operating in 25 different countries.
Christo tells us that Fast Track is built around certain principles. They are;
The principle of 80-20:
This means that 20% of whatever one does determines the outcome. They also call it the ultimate efficiency hack.
Simplicity is the ability to take out everything unnecessary.
Brutal Honesty is the ability to speak your mind without trying to be politically correct and without the fear of being judged. This principle brings them a lot of challenges while working with other companies as they always speak what they find right and not what gives them business.
The Fundamentals of Business
As Christo tells us about the contributions that led to the birth of Fast Track, he says that he grew up in a communist environment, served in the Army of Bulgaria and Russia, then went to a good University, got to talk to some influential people, worked in the corporate world, got fed up of it, worked with over 25 startups, faced two bankruptcy, moved to India to study Vedanta, Bhagavad Gita, Buddhism, and Zen. While he was analyzing his journey, he tells us that he came to some interesting conclusions;
- Time is by far the most important asset.
- We are making things more complex than they actually are. If you zoom out, the fundamentals are much simpler.
- To create a strong business, you need to master two things, first one is to create energy, another one is to build a character.
As he realized all these things, he decided to make use of this and start a consultancy to help other companies grow faster and this is how Fast Track came into existence.
Currently, Fast Track works in the areas of industry-agnostic, company size agnostic, and geography agnostic.
Skills that CEOs should possess
He tells us that Fast Track is ambition sensitive, that is why their target is not the company but the CEOs who are committed to fulfilling the maximum of their personal potential. He also tells us that their analysis shows that there are three activities that CEOs should master. They are;
- The ability to create personal and mental energy.
- The ability to act in two ways. First deciding what to act and secondly doing it in the best possible way.
- The ability to learn from not only others but from your own too.
Decoding, “If you risk nothing, you risk more” with Christo
Christo states that risk is a decision of an uncertain outcome. Everything we decide about our future has an uncertain outcome. This world is a very large place and if you don’t get out of your comfort zone and risk something, you are in reality missing about 99.9999% of what the world can offer you. That is why he believes that taking risks can make life better.
The ultimate measure of a man
Christo believes that the ultimate measure of a man is not when he stands in the moments of comfort, but where he stands in times of challenge and controversy. He says that if you are in your comfort zone you never grow. The moment of truth comes when you face challenges and it is quite rewarding for the people who want to grow.
The Mind Game
We are attacked by a million bits of information every second, whereas we just absorb about fourth thousand of that. It depends on our mind what we want to focus on and what we let pass. Christo believes that the ability to open your mind and connect as many dots as possible is fascinating.
What motivated Christo to come to India?
Christo tells us that there was a time in his life when he felt disillusioned. He had become a very senior person at a very young age which he found dangerous as he had started to take himself very seriously. He was trying a way out of his thoughts when he got in touch with an Indian teacher, who introduced Vedanta to him. He got intrigued by it and came to India to learn more about life.
– Born and raised in Communist Bulgaria
– 2 years in Bulgaria/Russia Special forces
– MSc in International Economics – Sofia and Moscow
– MBA – Cambridge University
– PhD – Harvard Business School
– Diploma in Management from Instead and London Business School
– Shell International – Marketing director – Europe, Head of scenario planning; GM of Shell Taiwan and Hong Kong
– SAB Miller – M&A Director
– One year in ashram in India to study Vedanta, Buddhism and Zen
– Started over 25 companies in 10 countries
– went through 2 bankruptcies, 2 IPOs and 2 exits. Completed over 12 M&A transactions
– Currently Founder and CEO of Fast Track – applying the Fast Track system to over 5000 companies in 27 countries
– Numerous publications in Forbes, Fortune, Business times of India, Human Resource management and others
– Member of YPO, Education Chair for Europe