I found this mission really a challenge, because my last 20-something years where so full of changes, decisions, experiences that it is really hard to summarize them in something coherent.
Probably the only “red thread” is the fact that I’ve never been an employee, but I’ve never been really unemployed too. Which gives you an idea about my approach to life: I’m an entrepreneur by heart.
Holding this thread, there are probably three main streams to discuss here: one is about Decision Making, the second is about Creating and Managing Your Assets, and the third is about Crystallization.
About Decision Making.
I was born in a normal middle/low class family, my parents get divorced almost immediately and I grow up with my grand parents until I was 15. Then I moved with my mum and her new husband.
How this could be related with my learning process about decision making?
Well, since I was 6 years old, my parents started asking me which one of the two I would prefer to see on Saturday, which one on Sunday, when go to the cinema, when to the park, what I could need, what I could get rid of it, and so on and on. So what I decided to do was to take no decisions until the moment it was not possible to avoid them. When to go out with who? Well, come over when you want, or have a chat between the two of you, and then we’ll stay here with the grannies.
Don’t misunderstand, I was an happy and loved kid, I loved my grannies, my 70ies and my life but I had often headaches and stomach pains. They took me to run some tests to the hospitals because nobody was having an idea about the reasons why I was often in pains. Well… there are things that you probably should not ask to a kid. When you are 6 you don’t know how to manage your “leadership” so you try to avoid to use it (or you grow some behaviour disorder).
Everything changed when I was around 14. At that time I decided that I didn’t really care if someone was getting upset about my decisions (at the end I was not killing anyone): one of the first big decision I took was to started to follow my father on holidays. Then the same year I had to choose for the high school, even though the suggestions of everyone and the psico-tests, I choose the most difficult school. And I took this responsability in front of my family.
It is pleonastic to say that my headaches stopped.
From that moment I always felt to have a stronger capacity than average to take responsability on things and to make actions. I never experienced any stress anymore, which makes me feel always centered and able — at least to pretend — to manage feelings not usually completely under control in people (stress, anger, anxiety, discomfort…). Yet it was not a one stop journey, while I’m still practicing. But it gave me the possibility to always see every situation from a bit more distant point of view. Of course this is not about what is right or wrong (mind versus heart). It is just a fact.
Life was never really easy even if I had this sort of “gift”, and certainly this makes no me a worldwide accredited entrepreneur (yet ;-), but I strongly believe that I was lucky enough to transform at a very early stage in my life what was a problem in an asset. Which gives me the link with my second point.
About Creating and Managing Your Assets.
In his Connecting the dots, Steve Jobs said something really interesting: you can’t connect the dots looking forward you can only connect them looking backwards.
In short this is exactly what I tried to make, starting when I was a teenager.
What I want to do? What I want to achieve? What is needed to realize what I want? What happen if I reach it? What if I do not? How to maximize the learnings and the investments if everything goes wrong? Any other interesting path?
When I was 19 after a couple of years working in an home music studio with a friend, I picked up the phone and I called few dance labels in my area. They were the top of the Europe at that time. I got 3 appointments out of 3 calls and in 3 weeks we got a first contract.
But while I was enjoying my shining new VAT number (you need it to act as a company), my hobbies and passions were slowly transforming in something more professional: my love for computers and my knowledge of internet (I was one among the few with an internet connection in 1989) became soon a collaboration with magazines and a possibility to work as a trainer; my love for music and my experiences other collaborations as a journalist; my curiosity about graphics (well… the first really popular desktop publishing software was Corel Draw on wintel computers, and I was betatester since the first release…) became another contract with the label as graphic designer.
During a 14 years path I could became a full time employed trainer or movie maker or journalist or musician or sound engineer or writer or… or…
How I created this? Why I did not take any of those opportunities?
Well, all those subjects were linked in some way. If a new dance release after 3 months of work was not the success we were waiting for, I could always sell my leading edge knowledge in the “disco-world” reviewing tech-stuff for magazines or interviewing singers and musicians.
If my graphic designer career was collapsing, I could always go on training people about softwares.
With this approach, among the many experiences I had: I shot movies and managed millionaire multimedia project, I created community and I organized events up to five thousand people, I left the university and I teach “portal design and managing, through reverse engineering of some world best case history” at the university I left.
Life was full of many different thread that gave to me the possibility to work in really interesting ventures, meeting many people, creating great results and a unusually long portfolio.
A portfolio made not by a disconnected list of things, but a coherent “learning path” on communication, with a 360° degrees perspective and a “learning by doing approach”.
In his incredible Connecting the dots speech, Steve Jobs said that you can’t connect the dots looking forward you can only connect them looking backwards.
I believe is truth that a clear picture is visible just backwards. In fact I just discovered later that I was a Communication Designer (*).
But I always had a different approach. Yes I was following a gut feeling but always looking back at my experiences trying to understand where I should go, which job I should look for, which skill was eventually missing, to became stronger and so on.
In a nutshell: I was always trying to design my path, according to my experiences, skills learnt, learning opportunities feelings and wishes.
I often used my CV as a business plan to check my progress but I also used to follow job posting about my different “careers”, to verify what I was missing from that market job description.
In this way I was often anticipating the needs of my clients, always having answers for their questions.
But when you have many options in your hands, sometimes really you have no options. When I was 32 I was entering a new phase. I already had what I was looking for and I had to choose again. Which directions follow to step to an higher order?
One secret I learned few years ago is that we should became so aware about what we really want, that we could start to ask to obtain what we need. And if we are really honest and deeply connected with ourselves, things are simply coming to us.
When I was 32 I was trying to make an higher sense of my career path. While I was in this dialogue with myself my dots were starting crystallizing in… something. I always knew that it was no room for a normal job in my future, even if sometimes I was lying to myself that I needed one. So my hat had to be definitely “something” that could allow me to take the best from every experiences I had, every skills I grow.
I was in tension for this quest but I never stopped to take any opportunity and any little job, I never lost any chance to have a beer with a friend or to reply to an email looking for some answer. And I never stop to look forward the next thing to learn, to do, to reinvent, to discover.
That’s how 7 years ago I met the incredible world of “designing collaborative processes aimed at liberating the generative power of Group Genius (**)” and I realized that this, it could really became my future. This is linked with the title I choosed “Everything Speaks”. But unfortunately it is related with another Mission
(*) Communication Design is a mixed discipline between design and information-development, which is concerned with how media intermission such as printed, crafted, electronic media or presentations communicate with people. A Communication Design approach is not only concerned with developing the message aside from the aesthetics in media, but also with creating new media channels to ensure the message reaches the target audience. It’s process involves strategic business thinking, creativity, and problem-solving.
(**) Group Genius is the ability of a group working iteratively and collaboratively to seek, model and put into place higher-order solutions. Time compression, systemic work-flow, dynamic feedback, individual creativity and collective creativity are core features of Group Genius. Group Genius is the power of simplicity, of simplifying complexity to enable people to better understand themselves and each other. A better understanding of your business is the natural consequence. Group Genius
is the ability of a group of persons to imagine, to create together and to realize something, using their collective ideas, energy and vision.