Colin Kleyweg is an Australian who lives between Serbia and Australia and who speaks quite fluent Serbian - which shocked me the first time we met. And we met thanks to LinkedIn.
With his wife Marina Kleyweg and other family members and friends, they have successfully built land development operations and now, they are building a strong rugby presence in Serbia through Red Star Belgrade Rugby Club, matched with a solid media and marketing business that is yet to yield truly significant results.
Colin was kind enough to ask me for an interview, published originally on the club's Facebook page, and I am now simply reposting it here for you to enjoy, hopefully.
Colin: To train in a sport like martial arts obviously takes great preparation, both mental and physical. Do you have any advice for young sportsmen relating to your preparation and how hard you work?
Cedomir: Whatever it is you decide to do in your life at a professional level, or with the aim of arriving at a professional level, must be deeply ingrained in your daily routine. You must shape your life around that one objective.
It is tough. Everything at top level is tough, but the rewards are amazing. The path is sometimes difficult, but it’s not just sweat and pain – you must love what you do, otherwise, it makes no sense. Even if you love it, sometimes it is tough to drag yourself to the gym or go run in the open. I learned that these are the best times to do it, when you feel least motivated. It builds your spirit, your mindset, your iron will, and that is where victory resides!
Even in martial arts, where it is about physicality and technique, and stamina – it is the mind that plays the crucial role.
So, train hard and smart, listen to your body and your mind, but don’t cede to the temptation your mind will certainly present you with – of doing it the next time, tomorrow, and similar. Be resolute, hardworking, patient, consistent.
Colin: As a young Serbian you moved to Italy. How do you find the challenge of living abroad in a different culture and with a different language?
Cedomir: It would not be the first time I moved to a different country. I lived, worked, or studied in the US, Spain, and Greece. I started from zero so often that I find it too natural. As for Italy, the country shares many of the values I am used to back at home, so it was not a huge shock. However, it did take me about a year to get used to the Italian ways.
As for the language, I am a linguist, so it was not a major obstacle to me. I already spoke decent Italian thanks to my wife, and moving to Italy helped me become fluent in what many define the most beautiful language in the world.
It was not always a smooth ride, but nothing was really an obstacle.
Colin: Not only have you succeeded in a tough, uncompromising sport, but you also have developed a leadership business. What are the similarities for you in achievement in sport and in business?
Cedomir: They are entwined. One influences the other, but it is the leadership habits that have done it for me. You must be willing to put in the hard work, do it consistently and be persistent about it. Sports give you the mental strength and they truly shape your spirit. Mens sana in corpore sano. A healthy mind in a healthy body. It is not just some meaningless phrase. It is the absolute truth. If you don’t take care of your body, your mind will become sluggish.
Always learning and feeding your brain with important works of business authors, philosophers, as well as novels is a recipe to success.
Before you set out to make a successful business, you must decide what your objective truly is, what success means to you and what it translates to in financial terms. Only then does it make sense to plan your steps, your years and your days.
I take business personally, so I needed to figure out who I am. I analyse myself a lot, and only at this stage in my life – I am forty now, do I realize what that Delphic maxim “Know thyself” was all about! Best way to do it is analysing yourself in extreme situations – when you fight, when you are hungry, when you are angry, happy, proud, etc.
Once I understood who I am and what I stand for, I applied it methodically to my business, so the three pillars that define me and my business are: truth, honesty and integrity. They mean responsibility and accountability, being fair and delivering on one’s promises, and holding oneself to high moral and ethical standards.
They are the basis for cooperation with other people, for building and keeping meaningful and trustworthy relationships that enable everyone to grow and prosper.
Colin: Your first experience in rugby League was watching an international. What are the things you loved about this new game and do you see the sport as having a Serbian future?
Cedomir: Wow! That was an awesome experience. First, thank you for inviting me to see the match. It was an absolute feast for me.
One thing that struck me in particular was how manly the sport is. It takes a lot of muscle strength and agility, plus tons of teamwork to make it work. There is everything – from strategy to execution, and let’s not forget the mind, because when the resolution falters, you can see it in the field.
The funny thing is that rugby has not been more present in Serbia until now. When I was a kid, and that was mid-eighties, I remember we used to play rugby in school. It was a small Serbian village in the south-west, but we played rugby, football (soccer), volleyball (that is not something you see often even in bigger towns) and basketball. But yes, rugby was there. Then, it was no more. That is strange.
Serbs being Serbs, very strong in constitution and competitive, I envisage a bright future for the sport in Serbia.
What is needed is to create awareness. Once you see the match, you will love it. And I believe it is so much better seeing it at the stadium. It is where you start to appreciate what is going on in the field. You feel the energy.
Colin: What does the future hold for you? Can you share with us your sporting and business goals?
Cedomir: I have grown to know that future is a promise, not a certainty, so whatever it holds for me, it’d better wait. Gods laugh at our plans, but we plan anyway. Sometimes it feels like a fool’s business, but the imaginary goals we give ourselves certainly work their magic and make us active and productive.
On June 2nd 2019 I became the Italian kickboxing champion in my category (seniors, under 85 kg), so I can tick off one of my sporting goals from the list. After three rounds of qualifications that started in January and the finals in Rimini, Italy, I did it! It was a big one for me, especially because I won the mind game. Now, I want to continue training and I see myself training as long as I live. At one point, my goal is to open my martial arts school and start teaching, too.
Now, speaking of teaching, one other thing that I love doing is teaching, but not in the sense of teaching in schools, day in, day out, but rather in the sense of coaching. It would be good to combine the passion with other people’s needs so that everyone would profit from it. Teacher learns the most. And I love learning and spreading the knowledge.
Back to sports, with a couple of friends we set up a Jeet Kune Do and Combat Sports Federation in Italy (Federazione Jeet Kune Do e Sport da Combattimento), of which I am vice-president, so one of the goals is to promote it and get as many clubs involved as possible, organize tournaments, instructor certification programs, etc.
As for business, I want to be the one uniting nations not only by facilitating communication – through translation and interpreting, but also through commerce. I am learning about export management, internationalization, negotiating and other related subjects, while at the same time seeking to actively promote Serbian products in Italy and Italian products in Serbia and abroad.
I see myself as part of a group of persons, who collaborate effectively and whose skills are compatible with the common goal of facilitating communication and the flow of goods between people. Collaboration is the key word. One man can do only as much. Together, though, people can move mountains.
I've been writing ever since I was a child, my first collection of poems written at the age of 7-8 (an entire notebook that is somewhere in the attic - I will have to find it!)