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The Ikonns

The Ikonns Podcast is hosted by Alex and Mimi Ikonn. We are here to help you create and live your dream life. Join us as we discuss life and business insights with each other and our special guests. Covering topics such as life purpose, building a life that you love, relationships, entrepreneurship, spirituality, health, parenting and much more.

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Produced By Jason Sanderson @

Aug 27, 2019

In today’s episode we dive into the life story of Dennis Malamatinas, a Greek man that has served some of the world’s most iconic brands as CEO of Burger King Corporation, Smirnoff Vodka and Pepsi-Cola Italy, Dennis shares with us business strategies and his life mindset.  Join us in this beautiful and inspiring conversation.


Born to Greek parents who emigrated to the jungles in Tanzania, Dennis holds very vivid and picturesque memories about his childhood – the animals, the noises and the nature. In 6 years, he ended up moving back to Greece. However, growing up watching American movies and getting fascinated by the concept of American dream life made Dennis dream big and move to the United States at the age of 17.


It was September of 1972 when Dennis as a teenager had arrived in Chicago with $300 in his back pocket, the cash he earned from working on building sites over the previous two years. He tells us “Greece was too small and I knew that America was my dream. It was tough to make it happen, but I did it”. 


Working 16-hours shifts as a kitchen hand in a restaurant, Dennis was determined to make his dream life happen. In fact, one of the first things Dennis learnt about the United States was that the harder he worked, the luckier he got. 


“Nowadays, people expect quick success, but you really have to work hard in life. I knew that I had a dream, and I worked for it. I was never jealous for anyone. To me, it was a motivation if I saw somebody who had a Cadillac or owned a beautiful house. I always thought ‘That’s great, how can I do it?’”


Ending up with an MBA from the University of Chicago School of Business, young, ambitious and extremely hardworking Dennis got a position in Procter & Gamble, and soon moved to Switzerland, where he met his beautiful wife. 


When his two kids were born, Dennis had to admit that he wasn’t earning enough. All of the sudden, the major corporation Pepsico came forward and doubled his salary, offered him options and a big title. And guess what Dennis Malamatinas did? He accepted the role and moved to Pepsico. 


In one year, Dennis was promoted to the CEO of Pepsico Italy. For him, work has always been a combination of two things: performance and people’s skills. “The people I respect are those who are actually great with developing and building teams, and delivering results. In the end, the corporate world is tough and roofless. And if you don’t deliver more than you are expected, you won’t going to make it”, Dennis points out.


Eventually, Dennis ended up being a CEO of Burger & King globally at the age of 41. But, unfortunately had no time for his family. This was the pivotal moment to make a decision to let go of ego and greed. Dennis knew: what his kids needed the most was not money, it was time and love. So, he put his family values as the main priority, resigned from his position and has never regretted this since then.


“Whether it is for life or for business, my strategy is: clarity, focus and priority. I am very clear with my life and with my priorities, and that’s what makes me happy every day. The family and the chance to have a real quality time with my kids was very important to me. In the end, we are not just parents, we are friends, and we are bonded together”.


Dennis Malamatinas’ life and business advice:

  1. The 9 to 5 environment is not enough. You need to know what is expected from you, and if you really want to make a mark, deliver more than just what is expected from you.
  2. Dealing well with people is key. You need to demonstrate your bosses or to the whole corporate environment that you can deal with the people, you can build teams, and you are a real team player.
  3. Luck. And by that Dennis means to have a good mentor or someone who can spot and support your talent. When you are hungry, extremely hard-working, determined, and you deliver results, then people can count on you and offer you something unique.
  4. In life, you don’t need excuses, you need solutions. And you can always find the solution.
  5. Money doesn’t buy you happiness, money can buy you choices. And in the end, we shouldn’t forget that life is about choices and what you make out of it. Keep it simple.

Here is what else we have talked about:


  • Differences between European and American work mindsets
  • What makes you a great worker
  • Being jealous of the other’s success 
  • How to understand that you need to stop
  • How to balance family life and corporate environment
  • The reality of “I’m doing that for my kids” mindset
  • Why the biggest achievement in life is your family

Books we have mentioned in this episode:

Show notes