DDI: Coffe on the GO with Miha Pogacnik


The renowned classical violinist shows business leaders how art and leadership are intertwined.

Leadership is often described as an art because it lacks the rigor and replicability of a science. But leadership and art actually have a lot in common. That’s the message of Miha Pogačnik, a classical musician and entrepreneur who traded concert hall performances for intense sessions he conducts around the world in which he guides business leaders through the deconstruction and evaluation of great works of classical music. As he takes the leaders inside the piece of music, examining how it is constructed and why it works, he encourages them to draw comparisons to the challenges they face in their everyday roles and their approaches to viewing and solving their business challenges.

Pogačnik, who will be among the featured presenters at the upcoming conference Leadership & Management Forum Europe 2012, spoke with GO about his one-of-a-kind sessions, the universal language of music, and how the terminology of art is prevalent in business.

GO: How did you come to move from your profession as a classical violinist to the work you’re now doing with leaders?

Pogačnik: I realized that the world had changed so much in the late 20th century from the times of the great masters. It was like the world had become like a big factory of musicians, so I stepped out of it. I created a movement where I invited my audiences to travel with me to different areas of the world, as far away as Tibet and across Siberia and Mongolia and Russia.

Through my experimenting, I began to understand that there’s so much art can offer in terms of inspiring human beings when it comes to being a leader. And I saw that the leaders on the top floors of corporations and the leading entrepreneurs needed to discover or rediscover artistic principles in order to see their businesses, their leadership abilities, and their challenges in a different way.

GO: Describe what happens in your sessions.

Pogačnik: I have the participants sit among the players of the symphony orchestra and then I take a great violin concerto, Beethoven or Brahms for instance, and I direct the participants through the development of the masterpiece and the problems the composer had to solve. I engage them in conversation and put them in small groups after they’ve gone through this experience. I seek out their observations and uncover their new ideas.

Because I take people completely into a field they are unfamiliar with, they feel very insecure at first, but when we go deep into the music, suddenly they discover that the challenges and solutions that contributed to the creation of the masterpiece, and the way to interpret those processes, have a lot to do with the challenges they are encountering every day, such as how to work together, how to execute strategy, and so forth.

That’s the fun part of what I do. You introduce people to the issues and potential solutions that are present in a piece of music, then you leave it up to them to be inspired and determine what they should take away and use. As a performer, it’s always surprising to see the connections they make when you’re leaving it up to them and not telling them what to do.

GO: What is the connection between music and leadership?

Pogačnik: An organization is like a great symphony in many ways. When you look at the orchestra it’s so obvious that you have a body of 60, 70, 80 people and they each must be very good in their own right.

But when they play together they share something quite different. In an organization, egos play a big role, but in classical music as soon as the musicians in the orchestra start playing a great masterpiece, egos drop away and don’t disturb the whole process anymore.

GO: Do audiences in different parts of the world react differently to what you are doing?

Pogačnik: I think great classical European music has the potential to touch the human within the human. I was doing a session with a group of students from Africa who did not have many opportunities to come into contact with European classical music. So I did it my way and after five minutes they were saying, “How is it possible we don’t know this music? If we heard it on the radio we would immediately shut it off, but the way you present it, it makes so much sense. We want to know more.” In other words, the framework in which you do something matters. If you can reach across the barriers that are erected between cultures, locations, and all that, and immerse people in experiencing a masterpiece, it doesn’t matter where they’re from. The reaction will be the same.

GO: Is a leader a performer or does a leader need to be more of an engaged and attuned listener?

Pogačnik: Both, of course. But performance is only the finer touch. You see, a leader has to have the capacity to slip into and understand another person’s role.

It’s very difficult to lead from the periphery. Teamwork comes up so often in my sessions because teamwork is on everybody’s mind and you cannot really be a team unless you work together. When a leader pushes the rest of the group and brainwashes them into action and gets them smiling and saying yes, that’s not the same as having a team. A team is about people wanting to work together and that’s something you can really learn by listening to a string quartet. You have four individuals who must work together in a tight and sometimes turbulent relationship, but the music they make together is so glorious because everybody is also an individual.

GO: It seems that centuries ago we used to be better at integrating art with our everyday lives and our business. Does it feel as if we’re starting to move back in that direction?

Pogačnik: You know, so much of the language used in business comes from art. In business they talk about performance all the time; they talk about creativity, orchestration, conducting, and so forth.

It’s like the business world desperately wants to have some association with the world of art. Everybody talks about performance, but they never talk to professional performers, like me, to learn what it’s really about. For example, it’s very interesting that excellence is a word that comes up so often in business. But for us musicians, excellence is nothing. Genius is what matters in art, not excellence. Excellence is just a starting point.

Miha’s Elevator Talk

We are in the elevator and an unknown person, probably an executive in a global brand
company, turns to me and says:

– “Is that a violin in your case? Performing a concert tonight?”

(Here we are: I am pigeonholed: violinist = glorified entertainer!)

– “No. I am on my way to an event to help executives like you find their own solutions for their problems.”

– “With violin??? Serious?”

– “Dead serious. I will help them to listen to the process of a genius masterpiece, get them passionate with out-of-the-box solutions emerging from musical complications and empower their own solution-sparks to jump the line back to their leadership dilemma, surprise, surprise: resolving, implementing.  Creative detour – the fastest road to the goal! With 100% engagement, like true artists, no SMSing during my session! At the end I will perform, and they will hear the performing organisation! And my promise: they will never forget those change messages…”

(we are approaching the ground floor.)

– “But my team does not necessarily like classical music!”

– “Brilliant starting point: Art is not about liking, it is about real change and transformation!”

– “But I am afraid my boss will not like it…!?”

– “Well, then you might better get yet another PowerPoint presentation!”

(Uhhhhhsh, the doors open.)

– “May I have your business card… CIO, Chief INSPIRATION Officer…???!”

– “Yes, you need inspiration if you want your change event to hit the bottom line!”
Gone in the crowd… gone?

Invitation to Terra parzival quest with Miha Pogačnik

Dear Reader,

You may already be familiar with my innovative method from past workshops on Art, Leadership and Business.

Inside Orchestra.png

This time, on July 28th 2019, you are invited to sit amongst the musicians inside the Ptuj Castle and become an integral part of a whole Symphony Orchestra under my own leadership and musical supervision. You will experience how the emotional structure of a musical masterpiece can be transferred into the strategy of managing yourself and your company. 


The Orchestra event from last April was a total success for our Slovenian finest leaders as well as managers of top global companies. We will have reputable guests again and are expecting high-level socializing! The music content although new is a continuation of the April Orchestra. This unique event is part of a four-day questival on the theme « Remember The Future, Terra Parzival Awakening » in the beautiful lands of Slovenia.


The day starts at 9:30 am, in the Palace, with an introductory narrative (Dr. Davorin Peršič) of the Knight Parzival and his life path from ignorance to the highest responsibility when he becomes King of the Holy Grail. The story of this mysterious, highly important European Medieval legend is anchored in the vicinity of Ptuj. I will combine the interdisciplinary impact of Music and other types of Art with the Parzival archetype and use it as our guide for what a leading personality is all about.

The musical process and performance (Johannes Brahms, Violin Concert Op.77) begins at 11 am in the Festival Hall (my method can be found at www.mihavision.com).

At 13:30 pm, we will have a joint debriefing of experiences on the impact of the new « Art & Economy » paradigm followed by a « networking » lunch in the Castle Yard.

As it is summer time, we are also inviting partners with a parallel « Knighthood » program especially prepared for children!

The entire 4-day program can be found in www.terraparzival.net

Looking forward to seeing you in Terra Parzival!

Miha Pogacnik

Ambassador of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia


Mob. 00352 661 485158 

Links to 3 videos from April




Investment for programme, storytelling, orchestra, debriefing and networking lunch:
€200, with partner €300, programme for kids by agreements.

If you want to participate for whole event (28. 21. 7) price is €400.

Hotel Mitra Ptuj

Peter Vesenjak



0038641 514 020

Account info:

 IBAN: SI56041730001588278
 Account holder:
 Name: Ustanova Gandin fundacija
 Address: Dolane 1, 2282 Cirkulane, Slovenia
 Name: Nova KBM d.d.
 Address: Ulica Vita Kraigherja 4, 2505 Maribor, Slovenia

Ptujski grad 28 Julij 2019, 9:30-14:45h

Ta dopoldanski dogodek z orkestrom (v anglescini) je del štiridnevnega questivala Remember The FutureTerra Parzival Awakening”


Morda že poznate mojo inovacijo na področju vodenja (prosim, poglejte spodaj izjave Andreja Božiča in Sonje Šmuc) .

Inside Orchestra.png

28. julija 2019 dopoldne boste imeli priložnost, da na Ptujskem gradu sedite med izvajalci simfoničnega orkestra in pod mojim vodstvom doživite transfer emocionalne strukture glasbene mojstrovine v strategijo vodenja samega sebe in podjetja in tako izkusite mojo inovacijo v živo.



Premiera podobnega dogodka na Ptujskem gradu je bila 6. aprila in Slovenski udelezenci so sedeli v orkestru skupaj z menedžerji tujih globalnih podjetij. Ponovno bomo imeli ugledne goste in pricakujemo druženje na visokem nivoju! Glasbena vsebina nova, nadaljevanje aprilskega dogodka.

Najprej boste ob 9:30h v palaciju (Dr. Davorin Peršič) doživeli uvodno pripoved o vitezu Parzivalu in njegovi življenjske poti iz ignorance do najvišje odgovornosti, ko postane kralj svetega Grala. Ta skrivnostna najpomembnejša evropska srednjeveška legenda je zasidrana v okolici Ptuja.


Poleg meddisciplinarnega vpliva glasbe in drugih zvrsti umetnosti uporabljamo Parzivala kot pravzorec za razvoj vodilne osebnosti.

Glasbeni proces in izvedba (Johannes Brahms, Violinski koncert Op.77) se začne ob 11h v slavnostni dvorani (mojo metodo lahko spoznate na www.mihavision.com).

Ob 13:30 Sledi skupen debriefing doživetja, izmenjava izkušenj o vplivu nove paradigme umetnosti&gospodarstva in “networking” kosilo na grajskem dvorišču.

Ker je to poletni termin vabimo tudi partnerje in za otroke bo pripravljen paralelni “viteški” program!

Miha Pogacnik

Veleposlanik  Kulture republike Slovenije


Mob. 00352 661 485158

Andrej Božič:

“Orkester je najstarejši najbolje delujoči vodstveni tim.

Dirigent brez strastnih in tehnično briljantnih glasbenikov ne pomeni nič, brez njega pa je ta kolektiv samo skupek briljantnih posameznikov.

Vsi so enako pomembni, violine se ne prerekajo z violami ali tolkali, samo če vsi delujejo skupaj, ubrano v flowu, je rezultat glasba , ki te ponese , motivira, vzbuja kreativnost, strategijo,…

To se občuti in ne potrebujes biti strokovnjak.

Prav zato je to doživetje z Mihom nekaj enkratnega in je velika lekcija iz vodenja, hkrati pa čisti užitek in dragocena izkušnja drugačnega doživljanja koncerta !”

Sonja Šmuc:

Iskanje svetega grala, ki navdihuje viteza Parzivala, povezanega s Terro Parzival, je hrepenenje človeka, da najde odgovor na večno vprašanje o smislu življenja. Zakaj sem tu? Kako se moji dihi prepletajo z ritmom človeštva?

Miha Pogacnik s svojo virtuozno metodo seciranja clovekovih globin ob zvokih violine in orkestra interpretira svetovne glasbene mojstrovine tako, da slišimo Bacha, Beethovna, Mozarta na nov, meddisciplinaren način  …, in tako odstirajo nepomembno, boleče, skrito v duši in potrkajo na sveti gral, ki ga nosimo v sebi. Potovanje z Miho je raziskovanje, ki pušča sled, tam kjer največ šteje. V nas.

Investicija za program, pripoved, orkester, debriefing in networking kosilo:

€200, z partnerjem €300 , program za otroke po dogovoru.

Če se želite udeležiti celotnega dogodka (28-31.7) € 400

Informacije in prijava:

Hotel Mitra Ptuj

Peter Vesenjak



041 514 020

Informacije o računu za nakazilo:

 IBAN: SI56041730001588278
 Account holder:
 Name: Ustanova Gandin fundacija
 Address: Dolane 1, 2282 Cirkulane, Slovenia
 Name: Nova KBM d.d.
 Address: Ulica Vita Kraigherja 4, 2505 Maribor, Slovenia

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TerraParzival, Slovenia

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I am standing on the terrace of castle Borl-Ankenstein and looking back on 42 years of the IDRIART movement. Looking back through the memory of the old tower, to the knight Parzival and his time in the 9th century; His response to the call of the Grail.

How does this call resound in the 21st century?  What kind of listening is required to hear it?

We invite you to join to listen and celebrate in TerraParzival, July 27-31, 2019. You will hear the Parzival story told in various authentic locations, in relation to the challenges of our time. Supported by the power of Music-Process and recalibration of World-View. Together we will listen and set the stage for the emerging future!

Often in crisis locations and times, some 200 intercultural IDRIART Festivals proved the power of resonance when music and other Arts became the humanity platform of meetings. Yet this is not enough!

WE all live in an off-balanced „economic society“; for that reason I personally have ventured the last  28 years on a  learning journey with my violin, through the leadership floors of numerous companies and corporations world wide, uncovering the magic  of the formative forces of the arts; de-mixing and re-composing ailing relationships of culture, politics and economics.

What can we learn? How can we in TerraParzival inspire and learn from the centenary celebration of Rudolf Steiner’s Treefold Societal Composition and original Waldorf education principles in July? The Parzival story is one of the curriculum pillars in the 11th grade when young people ripen to reach for their highest ideals!  Where are the profound IDEALS in our digital-permeated society?? My motto is:

NO digitalisation without humanisation!

If you „hear“ this call, please reserve the date, offer suggestions, more details will follow.

Miha Pogacnik and  TerraParzival Team

www.terraparzival.net (soon updated!)


Anita Puksic