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Where to find out what’s going on in Krakow (and Poland)

Richard Lucas March 2021

I recently listened to an excellent podcast interview with Jonathan Ornstein, leader of the Jewish Community Centre in Krakow, on a podcast called “The Krakcast”. Hear it here. It’s from Passover 2020 when Poland was doing relatively well in its Covid-19 response (those were the days). Congratulations to The Krakcast team – Dave, Josh, John, Gabi, and ‘Dr. Michael’. https://www.krakcast.pl/

It doesn’t seem like a one off either. Today I heard another interesting interview with Max and Michał of Yolk Coworking who are doing a better job of building a community focussed co-working space that I and a number of others did with Colab a few years ago. They certainly help with hosting an the first Open Coffee High School meetup which has now spread to many cities and three countries even during lockdown

This podcast got me asking myself, “How many other excellent resources are there about life in this amazing city?” I decided to share English language resources for those in or planning to come to the place I’ve lived for over 30 years.

Some Disclaimers. This list is not complete or designed to be “perfect”. If you don’t understand why I included “link X” or left out “website Y”, it’s because that’s the decision I took. I am no oracle. This list will not be complete. I am ready to make updates as a public service from time to time. If you don’t understand why I decided to use a Facebook group in one case, and a webpage in another, neither do I, I did what was most convenient for me. If you find my generalisations glib or offensive, sorry. If you don’t like my sense of humour – you are not alone.

All Poland resources To get by in Krakow, there are some “all Poland” books and websites that will be very helpful. If you want to be happy in Poland, get to know Polish history. Read Norman Davies’s Heart of Europe. It will really help. There are some excellent “all Poland” websites Notes from Poland, https://notesfrompoland.com Daniel Tilles and Stanley Bill have done a superb job with their army of well educated and informed contributors. There are Youtube channels, notably, Paddy Ney’s here and his Heart of Poland. If you like his style check out his great TEDxKazimierz talk here .Going to Quora and asking What is is like living in Poland leads to a string of thoughtful answers. My Quora answer about Poland got over 100,000 views :-). I came across this Youtube diary made by Natalie who was in an MBA class I teach Moving To Poland and Youtube suggested I moved from LOS ANGELES to KRAKOW, Poland. Which do I prefer? which anyone might find interesting. A big list of English language news about Poland is here . 

Krakow Focussed Resources There are some historic news sites like the Krakow Post which used to be a printed newspaper. It’s connected to an excellent tourism orientated site Localife.com – Listen to the founder of Local Life Mark Bradshaw on the Entrepreneurship and Leadership Channel of the New Books Network here – It’s an interview I did with Sam Cook back in 2015. There are a number of other tourism sites like Krakow in your Pocket which are easy to find and useful.

There are many on and off line groups for foreigners. The melting pot of Krakow is quite complicated so you have to realise that not everyone will be exactly like you. Read through the list of below and see how soon you recognise yourself:
rich “expats” living in expensive, expensed houses who ask “where can I rent a private jet, hire a cook and  gardener  ?”
moaners and angry types, always grumpy, often on social media, asking “Why don’t underpaid shop assistants speak English?” 
“Party” people who are here to well… party
Trust-a-farians (rich kids living off trust funds)
Hipsters 
Draft dodgers
Artists & creatives
Culture vultures
People with regular jobs (called “Corpo” jobs in Krakow)  
Digital nomads and freelancers (that covers many others on this list)
retirees whose western pension goes further here
Sleazy, creepy types and influencers 
Hardcore gangsters, ex-terrorists (top tip – never ask “what did you used to do?”)
Refugees – this is very real, Poland has given visas to 100,000s of people from countries to the East of Poland who have been through great hardships. 
Polonia 
English teachers 
Student and academics
Diplomats and spies – There are not many
Entrepreneurs and wannabe entrepreneurs
‘normal’ people and others

Krakowians migrate from one group to another, rotate between them, and sometimes wear multiple hats. I realised when I finished this list that I should have put it in alphabetical order. Please imagine that I did this for
you.

Krakow Business Community  The Krakow Startup Community has deep roots way back: as far as Jan Thurzo of Fugger/Thurzo fame in 1477 through to Base (which exited to Zendesk),  to Brainly and Inpost, Poland’s Unicorns (companies valued at over a US$1 billion) . Fugger monopolised the copper market, financed the Hapsburgs and was the richest man the the world – way richer than the GAFAs in relative terms. 
See Cisco’s Ramon Tancinco Krakow: Europe’s Silicon Valley? Why not! TEDxKrakow talk on Krakow’s Silicon Valley potential. We’ve a way to go yet. There aren’t entrepreneurial business schools, angel funds, and community centres where internationally minded Krakow entrepreneurs hang out and rub shoulders but there are a number of initiatives.   I hope the guys at Yolk can be instrumental in fixing things. 

The OMGKRK foundation www.omgkrk.com  

Open Coffee Krk

 Open Coffee High School edition . See Magda’s TEDx talk about this project here 

Krakow Enterprise Mondays  
Crossweb.pl lists Tech events listing (mostly in Polish)


Professionals in Krakow – The international community of Krakow  https://www.facebook.com/groups/professionalsinkrakow

Aspire is the  large foreign companies club –  hat tip to Andrew Hallam who has been running this for decades. Smaller businesses are welcome there too.

Non Business Groups

There are a lot of more general resources for foreigners in Krakow, especially in Facebook groups, and I am sure I have left some out..  Krakow Expats has more than 30,000 members  hat tip to David McGirr for the work he puts in to moderating this and many other expat resources.  He also runs this web site Krakow Expats http://krakowexpats.pl/listings/foreigners-in-krakow

Real Krakow Expats  https://www.facebook.com/groups/krakowexpats unmoderated FB group is active and lively.  

Foreigners in Krakow https://www.facebook.com/groups/215122655212899

Internations Krakow

International Women’s Association of Krakow (I  managed to be a member of this organisation as a divorced dad and “honorary woman”). In Krakow many things are possible.

Krakow Standup Comedy  has brought some big names to Krakow and I can’t wait for live comedy to restart.  
Couchsurfing Krakow meetups and  Language Exchange Krakow  were great places to meet all kinds of people.

Massolit the English Language Bookshop & Cafe founded by David Miller is almost a cultural institution.  It’s normal to make friends there.

Jewish Life if you don’t know why this matters read Norman Davies as mentioned above. The Jewish Community Centre    has become world famous . Great credit to Jonathan Ornstein – and the team – for this magical place. To understand why listen to KrakCast, who interviewed him very well here  and here Part 2. See Jonathan with Robert Desmond on the TEDxKazimierz stage talking about the Ride For The Living & The JCC here.
Also listen to Janusz Makuch, founder of the  Jewish Culture Festival at TEDxKrakow (talking in Polish) 
To get a sense of the positive undercurrents of Polish Jewish relations listen to Rabbi Michael Schudrich at TEDxWarsaw  Jewish descent on the rise

Observant readers will notice I’ve been referencing TEDx talks.  TEDx can have had important community building roles as they search for the most interesting ideas and people to put on their stage.    I’ve been deeply involved in TEDx since 2009,  leading, until earlier this year, TEDxKazimierz. I’m going to end with a few more Poland related TEDx talks that are definitely worth watching. 

TEDx in a Polish High School | Alina Małocha | TEDxKazimierz
How to Learn Anything | Hugo Dutka | TEDxEmbassySchoolKrakow 
A life well lived | Wojciech Narębski | TEDxKazimierz

In conclusion.. thanks again to The Krakcast team for the work you have been doing.  Once bars re-open  I’m offering to buy you a piwo, vodka, meal or whatever.   If any readers feel that I should have mentioned their organisation or web page in this blog post, let me know, I’ll almost certainly add it, next time I update.  

Categories
community building

The end of Project Kazimierz – and a new podcast is born

Richard Lucas
1st March 2021

Introduction

I recorded a final episode of the Project Kazimierz podcast on 27th February 2021, in which I thanked the many people interviewed over the years, my co-founder Sam Cook, and producer Adam Zuba, and last but by no means least our listeners. This final episode went live today, and you can listen to it here.

1st March 2021 marks the migration of the Project Kazimierz podcast onto the New Books Network, where it will become The NBN Entrepreneurship and Leadership Channel Podcast.


In this blog post I share some reflections on the journey so far – and why I am carrying on.

Why continue podcasting?  Actions speak louder than words. My big brother Edward, talking about my role as a parent to be, once said “children don’t take nearly as much notice what you say, as they observe what you do”. As in parenting, in life. I am carrying on with the podcast on the New Books Network, so readers of this blog can infer that on balance it is worth the time, energy and money it costs me. Why?

It’s about making my life more interesting, sharing the lessons of my and other people’s experiences with a wider audience on topics which I care deeply about, and about which many people are inexperienced. People who have founded and led organisations are few and far between. There is a lot to learn and share.

I am not putting my motivations in order. They include:
– An excuse to contact people who are doing something interesting and ask if they want to talk.  It’s not only strange to reach out to someone and ask “will you talk to me?”, it is also perfectly reasonable for that person to think “why should I?”.  If they just talk to me, only I, people I later meet will benefit. But if I am podcasting the wider audience may justify the exercises. Just north of 60,000 downloads are not a spectacular number but it’s a lot more than just me. It’s not close to the attention that TEDxKazimierz sometimes shines on its speakers. Michele Hutchison was on both the podcast and my TEDx stage and over 300,000 people viewed her TEDx talk online, on top of the sell out audience on the day.Possibly the person I talk to will find their life enhanced from the sheer joy of talking to me, but it would be arrogant to assume that this will be the case.  Being a podcaster is similar to having a TEDx licence, or I suppose being a journalist.  It’s a job and role that gives not just the right but the obligation to talk to people who have done something interesting or have a worthwhile idea.

Why focus on entrepreneurship and leadership?
because they are fundamentally important and therefore interesting.Entrepreneurship is fundamental to human progress. I explore this in the podcast. Human development and progress are driven forwards by technological progress, competition, capital mobility and the profit motive.  Entrepreneurship is the magical process by which people take advantage of changes or react to them, in order to solve problems or make life better.  For sure, not all entrepreneurial activity is successful –  that is part of the Darwinist evolutionary logic of the market place – only the right combination of idea, luck and execution will make survive and thrive. Many ventures do not. And not all entrepreneurial activity is beneficial for humankind, at multiple levels.

Whether we are considering polluting industries, manipulative advertising to encourage people to buy goods or services they don’t need to impress people they don’t like, pernicious business people who exploit their employees, clients or suppliers, not all entrepreneurship is good.


Not everyone should be an entrepreneur. I remember a conversation with my podcast co-host Kimon Fountoukidis about 20 years ago.  A business in which I had invested and ultimately lost a lot of money was days away from collapse.  Before closing it down we had conversations with all the key employees asking if they wanted to buy it from me and the other shareholders for a symbolic price, with debt write downs – effectively giving it away rather than shutting the doors. The Technical Director – who was not a shareholder – in response to this offer commented “Thank you, but I decided a while ago, I wanted a regular job, and not to have to worry about work when I go home in the evening”. I relayed this story to Kimon and we said, almost in unison, “which just goes to show that he is smarter than either of us”.  Entrepreneurship is not for everyone.

However, entrepreneurship is so important to social, political, cultural and economic development that it is worth understanding it, (even if by so doing our listeners only re-enforce a conviction that it is not for them). Entrepreneurs shape the way institutions and society evolve and develop. And as listeners will discover entrepreneurs are not all the same, even though they often have characteristics in common.

Listeners will also discover that some entrepreneurs we interview describe themselves as “accidental entrepreneurs”. They were not looking for their opportunity, it just somehow happened, and through being ready to take a risk, they changed not only their own life and fortunes but that of many others.  Maybe that will happen to some of our listeners?

The other focus of the podcast is leadership.  Getting a new organisation started, and running it, as every entrepreneur must, requires leadership. Leadership, the ability to get a group of people to work willingly towards a common purpose, requires a hard to define mix of characteristics, competences, and experience. In our podcast we want to get dig around to get our guests’ insights into this topic.

Why the New Books Network?

I was introduced to Marshall Poe who founded it by an TEDxKazimierz Speaker Brooke Allen back in 2016/17 but I only got to know Marshall in 2020. NBN is similar to TEDx, with which I am deeply familiar, in that it rests of the shoulders of volunteer hosts who care deeply about the topics of their channel.

Many NBN Channel Hosts had their own podcasts prior to migrating to NBN. The reason they migrate onto NBN is because it is easier than DIY production and by so doing they reach a wider audience. NBN has been averaging over 49,000 downloads a day since the beginning of 2021. Most of them (unlike me) are academics, and as my late father JR Lucas said, “most academics write books to be read , not rich”.

We have fantastic guests and episodes already “in the can” so head over to the New Books Network to sign up to make sure you don’t miss an episode, or subscribe at our Youtube Channel.

If you follow our Social Media channels Twitter, Linkedin and Facebook you will get to see great promo teaser videos for each episode by Magdalena Fountoukidis. Also thanks to Magdalena Błyskosz of Open Coffee High School who is taking care of the promotion.

Below are links that reference some of the topics in the podcast if not this blog post.