Greek Statistics – A marriage of an illusion to a futility


Today’s topic is about money, tax measures, calculations and statistics. The leader of the Greek opposition party gave a speech  in Salonica (Thessalonica)  a months ago about the economic pledges of his party which Syriza has calculated at about 11 billions euros.  Immediately the government replied that these measures would cost 18 billion euros – a 7 billion euro difference so who is giving us the “real” story? . Every new government in Greece says that the previous numbers produced by the previous government are “lies” and the situation is even “more difficult” than is anticipated. This is one indication of how we handle or mishandle statistics.

All statisticians know that there are lies, big lies and statistics. However statistics married with the Greek politicians is a fatal mistake. It is not just miscalculation and wrong statistics and not “just a story”. A story usually has some sensible and logical assumptions and an achievable end result. Greek government statistics are always a science fiction genre.  Greek government statistics is a paradox. Like a white house coloured black. Like mother Teresa married to Putin. It is a marriage of an illusion to futility.

It is the right time to stop this situation and come up with solutions. As a member of the Greek Statistical Society I propose the establishment of a truly independent organization that would do just one thing

It would be responsible for collecting and publishing statistics related to the economy, population and society at a national level so there will not be any dispute. This Statistics Authority would be an independent body, directly accountable to the Parliament.

What is so different from today’s Greek statistical authority?

If there is a change in how the work is done, the only words that will remain untouched are “statistical authority”. The existing statistical authority is so corrupt and dependent on the Greek government that their statistical figures are not even worth to be printed on paper.

Why will the proposed statistical authority be more reliable ?

  1. The head of this authority should be a person of foreign nationality with an international career and leader in at least one of the international statistical associations.
  2. This authority should not be funded by the Greek government but by the European Union.
  3. It should be overseen by Eurostat.
  4. The authority will provide online and make available to anyone all related summarized and anonymized  datasets so that anybody can run the models,numbers ,calculations and statistics again.

We are sure that this will be a final solution to this ongoing local problem.

* Καταναλώστε Yπεύθυνα – my most recent talk given this month at HAU Toastmasters.


“Being Cheap” – the wrong path for the Greek tech ecosystem.


I hear many opinions and stories according to which Greece has many more economical software developers, designers and technical professionals than many other mature tech ecosystems. Many argue that this is our competitive advantage and we can leverage it, in order to produce successful starts ups successful businesses and successful companies.I will analyze what the limitations are with this type of mentality.

1) It doesn’t matter how fast you’re going if you are headed in the wrong direction.

We all know that the main cost of a  software related startup, is mainly the cost for human resources. The biggest portion of the budget in today’s tech startup companies goes to technical people . However as we know, a startup is a temporary organization formed to search for a repeatable and scalable business model. Having great technical people, can sometimes make you move quickly in the wrong direction.  You might forget that the essence of business is not only to move fast but mainly to move in the right business direction.

Why might you forget that?

Because you get very excited by the product and less by the product – market fit. You are excited and not realizing that you have reached a local maximum.

 2) Startups do not need only technical talent.

A startup needs mainly technical talent. However it also needs  great operations people, salespersons , marketers , product managers etc. Without them we cannot build a company. Without them we would always have to sell successful products to foreign companies and this will weaken the Greek ecosystem. It will happen because most of our successful teams will migrate to London, US,  Berlin , Tel Aviv etc.


3) Having more runaway for the same money doesn’t guarantee successful taking off

Self Explanatory


4)  Sometimes smaller teams can do the same and even better job of much bigger teams

This is the idea that smarter, more agile teams can be more productive, efficient and effective than  much bigger ones. In order for this to happen, technical people also need soft skills. I think that soft skills are not a competitive – advantage of the Greek technical talent.  I don’t mean that our technical people do not have soft skills but I am saying that soft skills are not their strong point.

To summarize, I don’t argue that having economical technical talent is not a good start for playing ball ( positioning the Greek startup ecosystem ). It is an advantage when we are producing tech products. However, as we all know, producing a tech product is one thing,whereas making this a successful product, a successful business and a successful  company, is another thing. There is a limitation with this mentality when we are dealing with innovative and growth companies. So, I propose to use our advantages , play with them and at the same time be thoughtful about their limitations.

Advice from someone who doesn’t give advice

 lyd.ium from flickr

lyd.ium from flickr

“Advice? I don’t have advice. Stop aspiring and start writing. If you’re writing, you’re a writer. Write like you’re a goddamn death row inmate and the governor is out of the country and there’s no chance for a pardon. Write like you’re clinging to the edge of a cliff, white knuckles, on your last breath, and you’ve got just one last thing to say, like you’re a bird flying over us and you can see everything, and please, for God’s sake, tell us something that will save us from ourselves. Take a deep breath and tell us your deepest, darkest secret, so we can wipe our brow and know that we’re not alone. Write like you have a message from the king. Or don’t. Who knows, maybe you’re one of the lucky ones who doesn’t have to.”

Alan Wilson Watts

Replace writing with anything you dream of.