99u goes Local in Belgrade, Serbia
The days from the 14th to the 18th of July 2015 were busy ones for the creative world. A quick glance at #99ulocal will show you why. This year, Behance's prestigious New York-based conference for the creative world 99u has spread from New York and gone global - or, technically, "Local." 99uLocal events are casual one-night-only gatherings in which a bunch of creative folks get together to meet, share ideas and, most importantly, listen to three inspiring talks by accomplished individuals in their community. All this in line with the motto of 99u: "making ideas happen."
For the occasion, 99u and Behance carefully handpicked organizers in only 28 cities around the world. You can find the full list here. Among these was Belgrade, Serbia, where the organizers Lege Artists made it a priority to show they mean business, especially after setting the bar high with the largest Behance Reviews event ever. It's up to you to see whether we succeeded. Us, we surely had a great time!
Get the feel of the whole thing in the pictures right down here, and keep scrolling 'till the end for the full story of 99u Local Belgrade.
Overview of 99u Local Belgrade
The name 99u comes from Thomas Edison's famous quote: genius is one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration. The bottom line is: you guys surely have a bunch of ideas - let's work with these first, and turn them into reality. So, the conference and its Local spinoffs are meant to teach people just this.
The Local event in Belgrade was held on September 18, 2015, 6 p.m. at the conference venue Dom Omladine Beograda. Visitors would come to chill out and network, listening to the music you'd expect wherever young people are, and they would do so before and after watching three *killer* professionals tell their stories on how ideas are made real. As in other 99uLocal events, speakers gave talks in English, which would make them accessible to the whole world and part of 99u's collection of knowledge and inspiration.
All of this, needless to say, would not be possible without the help of lovely sponsors, whom Lege Artists sends love and wholehearted thanks. To SuperDot, for printing the hell out promo materials, as always. To Extreme, which arms creatives with the software tools they need. To SAE Institute Belgrade, the knowledge powerhouse whose staff are dear collaborators and close friends. And, of course, to 99u itself, which made this great journey possible.
Also, to those and others who support and believe in the creative world Lege Artists says thank you and keep it real!
Prepping it up
To ignite the hype before the event, the organizers got an idea: let's first see what ideas people have and start from there. So they made the initiative Make Ideas Happen in Belgrade, which had people commit to their goals on paper and give the photographer their best smile from the booth. Check out the video below and the Facebook albums of how we did it around the city and at the venue, before the event.
Then, on D-Day, preps where the standard story - more or less. Setting up promo materials, taking in drinks and snacks and "check check microphone check" in the conference hall. For the latter, we had an extra check when Slobodan Trkulja decided to perform a live beatbox show - because, musician!
Speaking of music, a fun fact: the DJ at the networking was not actually a DJ. He was a friend of Nina Milos, Lege Artists' PR wiz, but he did such a good job that people would go to him and be like "wow man! You should totally come play some of this stuff at [cool youth event XYZ]." Someone's ideas did happen right on D-Day, it appears ;)

Here comes the crowd

Around 6 p.m. on September 18, 2015 people were flooding the ground floor of the Dom Omladine Beograda. Walking by, you would have noticed a diverse and prevalently young crowd. You'd see the occasional alternative-haircut artsy type, the kinda confused undergrad student, the casually dressed young entrepreneur or the confidently-gaiting consummated industry professional.
They were waiting in line to get their names signed in. 99u Local was free, but you had to register on the event's Meetup page. Once in, you could either go immortalize your idea at the familiar Make Ideas Happen booth, or go down to the networking area, where you'd excitedly wait for the main hall doors to open while conversing with, well, people full of ideas. That was the whole idea (pun intended), wasn't it?
Welcome, Ladies and Gentlemen!
So here we are. The colorful crowd is seated, the lights go down and the hovering 99u Local Belgrade heading stays the only oasis of light in the surrounding darkness. A bit like creative endeavor did throughout history. Nina wishes all of them guys welcome, and Nenad Ivanovic, 99u Ambassador and head of Lege Artists steps onstage.
A young designer, Nenad is already a consummated professional and, most importantly, a paladin of the creative world. He tells the public why things like 99u matter. Why it is absurd to let ideas go to waste in the world, and how empowered creative people can be today with just the right tools. Connection is key here: he tells how he and Lege Artists have, in three years of organizing Behance Reviews in Belgrade, learned firsthand Scott Belsky's adage "Creativity + Organization = Impact." A video of Scott's rally to the folks in Belgrade, back from 99u in NYC, is also played.
Connecting together and achieving wonders matters, says Nenad. That's why event such as 99u Local Belgrade are the lifeblood of our shared creative future.
After that, the talks. Brace yourselves, spectators, and take notes: you'll hear how ideas are made happen, and you can do so, too.
99u Local Belgrade Talks
The speakers were, in order of appearance: Mirko Topalski, founder and CEO of Serbia's largest game dev company Eipix Entertainment; Slobodan Trkulja, internationally acclaimed Balkan traditional music composer and multi-instrumentalist who’s been called a "21st century Balkan Mozart with a Billy Idol hairdo;" and Stella Karl Cosic, marketing industry veteran now turned entrepreneur, who makes ideas happen for a living with her career coaching consulting firm MotivTim.
1. Gaming Your Way to a Successful Career
Since he was a child, Mirko always knew that he wanted to make video games. For him, it was just the natural way to go. But if you're not as sure of what your path is, don't worry: you have to learn how to make videogames anyway.
In an informative and passionate talk, enriched with memorable quotes and book recommendations, Mirko explained success in work and life as a metaphor of the video game dev process.
Game-developing your career has 10 phases, going from finding what inspires you most (preproduction) to establishing yourself as a respected and well-connected member of your industry (post-launch). When you choose what you’ll be up to, make sure it is something that you’ll love doing every single day. When you’ve got it, plan, work and fail smart. The point is avoiding “feature creep” and focusing on what helps you learn at every step. To learn smart, one has to know where the to find the right information (there’s oodles out there) and to network with the right people in the industry.
The latter point is key. Computer programming is, in essence, all about connecting concepts into a common logic and with a common language. The same applies to people. So learn languages, get connected in the industry and keep those connections. When you have an idea, Mirko says, don’t show it to your mom: show it to professionals that can give you the right feedback.
To get a more in-depth view of Mirko’s ideas on making ideas happen, check out his story and advice in this interview Lege Artists conducted before the event.
2. The Art of Serving Art
“I’ve never travelled the standard road,” says Slobodan Trkulja, a music school dropout as a kid who became a world-class musician nonetheless: “Having music as something secondary in life felt simply… wrong” he says movingly. What music has been to Slobodan, everyone can find. He calls it the Art: something that fills you with a joy that doing anything else could never match, an awe-inspiring parallel world that you get lost into.
In an incredibly funny, personal and inspiring talk (complete with a demo of the funniest English accents around), Slobodan explains why anyone in their any profession should aim high, and work hard to get a chance to do things the only way that’s meaningful: in the way that inspires them. 

Don’t be satisfied, says Slobodan, with being a “rent-a-painter” ("... or a rent-a-car,” he adds. Indeed, why would you?). Everyone can get to do what inspires them, but this might require going great lengths and fighting the whole world. But if you endure enough to get paying the bills sorted out, you’ll have your Art carved out for you. And once you got it Art, you have to serve it. You serve your Art by getting it out to the whole world, as She rightfully deserves. Don't be a “home-genius,” whose inspiration stays in the living room for no one to see: get your work out there, no matter what! (A bit like Mirko, Slobodan is not a fan of your mom being the judge of your big ideas).
3. Get Clear & Get Real!
“How many of you have written your ideas on those pieces of paper today?” Stella Karl Cosic asks the public after stepping onstage. A jungle of hands goes up in the air. “But why did you write precisely that, and not something else?”
In a highly instructive and practical talk, Stella explains that the path to ideas becoming reality starts from asking ourselves tough questions. What follows will be determined by the answers.
The quintessential question, the 101 of idea realization, is asking: “what’s really important to me?” Stella’s answer, as a twenty-something, was three things: marketing, advertising and marketing research. What followed was a stellar career in agency, top management and, today, entrepreneurship. “What’s really important to me?”
That was the first pillar: Get Clear. The second is Get Real – using simple but powerful techniques to get where you now know you want to be, and beyond. Because, you see, career coach Stella knows that there are no shortcuts to success: set goals, prioritize, plan and execute. That’s unavoidable. Good news is, though, that with discipline – and a bunch of people around that make you feel alive – sky’s the limit!

Lessons Learned

Music is banging in the networking hall, where the (mostly) youngsters stayed for the drinks and to share thoughts and impressions. There’s a bunch of balloons in the familiar shade of orange and a bunch of guys in black-and-orange – volunteers and the folks from Lege Artists – are throwing them around, cheerful as kids.
The day after, the guys in black and orange will get some sleep and rejoice for this 99u Local idea-made-happen. Those (mostly) youngsters will tell their peers about some meet-up they attended, check the social profiles to tag their smiles in the photos. Both groups will think. Both will have, looming in their head, the personal stories and advice by the life-game developer, the musician with a crazy hairdo and the lady with the uncomfortable questions.
Let’s see, then, what we have learned at this 99u Local Belgrade event, first in a long series (you can count on that):
- Those whose ideas come to life know what they love. It might be games, an artistic Muse or marketing & advertising. But they know that’s the thing;
- The good news is, it’s not hard to find what your “Art” is. Everyone of us knows deep inside what makes us feel alive: if we’re just a bit structured in our being honest with ourselves (we all are all the time, aren’t we?) we’ll be able to fit our true aspirations on a sheet of paper;
- The bad news is there are no shortcuts. A clear vision, discipline and commitment are necessary;
- But if you treat life a bit like a programmer treats video games, and if you’re ready to fight the whole world in order to get it to see what you got, you can make everything happen;
- Whatever your ideas are, the people-factor will likely be everything to them. Through people you learn how to work and become better, and through people you keep your motivation and shape your idea realization. Whatever you’re up to, stay a social animal.
The Takeaway at Lege Artists
As for the organizing team, they learned a few more lessons – especially in the people department. This event was another proof of the adage 99u Ambassador Nenad Ivanovic mentioned: “Creativity + Organization = Impact.” 
Lege Artists is a bunch of creative industry folks united under one mission: dragging and pushing forwards the creative world wherever and whenever humanly possible. This latest event has taken their team chemistry to another level, and got them new friends (and, possibly, new acolytes) with the ranks of the lovely volunteers.

Also, this 99u Local has forged new alliances between Lege Artists and the vibrant startup community of Serbia. Ridesharing startup CAR:GO made free rides available for the needs of the event, while DataMaid turned 99u Local Belgrade into a story in real time as they attended, right through their app, which does precisely this.
The Journey continues
The event is over, but 99u Local Belgrade is a journey that has just begun. Stay tuned, people! Before we meet again next year, follow us on Facebook for interesting content on making ideas happen, and tell us a bit about all those ideas of yours.
They may still be roaming around the back of your minds, or they may already have taken over your lives.
But we know for a fact that they are there, just waiting to be made happen.
Organizer: Lege Artists
99u Ambassador: Nenad Ivanovic
Branding: Non Stop Agency
Meetup.com website and Social Media: Lege Artists and co.
Project report writer: Ivan Karaman
Marketing and Public Relations: Nina Milos
Photography: Sasa NikolicIvica IvanovicMilos Diskovic, Aleksandar Sretkovic
Video: NUT StudioRelja V Simic, Jovan Markovic, Mario Milojevic
Audio: Dusan Latic
Cool startup folks: CAR:GODataMaid

99u Local Belgrade

99u Local Belgrade

There are moments when great conferences go global to inspire the world. One such conference is 99u, and the result was 99u Local Belgrade. Held Read more
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