#creative #destination #marketing and #Zen tricks

Thanks to my friends and readers- I see that the week-end post already reached its (metered) quota (I do not know how many accesses from other social networks where I post the link).

So, I will share few ideas that I had partially shared today on Facebook: for once, let me avoid being the Devil’s advocate.

And I share an old video from Smirnoff http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DxaO9oCNYqI, that I found hilarious when I saw it in a movie theater in London and, thanks to that huge visual warehouse called YouTube, I recovered.

On Facebook this morning:

#Italy, the land of opportunities for #smart #FDI

New month, new thread (and trend)- for myself

For my foreign friends: for you, as I wrote above, Italy is the land of (bargain discount) opportunities: there are plenty of small companies with talent and IPR but limited cash to develop and sustain their operations and (human, physical) infrastructure and that sorely need a network abroad to fulfil their potential:)

Suggestion: invest in a company, and sustain also the local community (e.g. infrastructure, schools), and you will buy a loyal and committed workforce

When the PM of your country becomes the “beggar in chief” to attract FDI while getting from the head of the leading industrialists’ association only requests for more help but no pledge of investments or a shared plan for a development policy, politicians spend more time sorting out storms of their own creation than doing anything else, and the country gets another round of “reforms via judiciary and mud-slinging”…

…it is the final confirmation that the right choice was to pack and resettle in 1997, and that the 2003-2005 (and up to 2008) attempts to be “patriotic” and support start-ups (for deferred income and shares- that were never delivered), work at a discount (and eventually for free) on public projects, and transfer experience to help smaller companies develop (again, for deferred income and shares) were a valiant but useless attempt: you have to belong to the right circles, also if you work for free:)

So, ready to switch to a different track: a (modest) revenue source to do something intellectually productive in a different field (to avoid any attempts at “IPR gag rules”, as received in the past in Italy)

Main aim: to fund the (modest) development cost of an expanded, structured, public knowledge&ideas sharing, and the development of the “building blocks” for a new activity (probably online) and a last relocation toward an ordinary country

This time, traveling really light:)

But, as I wrote above, more than once I saw that this “circles”/tribal attitude is a boon for foreign investors- as they can cut through all the mutual suspicions that make next to impossible to grow larger businesses in Italy (with few exceptions, of course), and coach management (as anything has to be get through a balancing act in inter-tribal relationships)

If you need help… email me: saving the potential of this country by selling it at a discount to those that know how to develop it is better than seeing it fading away due to under-investment that is simply a side-effect of a preference for destroying rather than seeing an opposing “circle” score a success;)

Yes, promoting Italy requires being creative- not as much as the CEO in that video, but you still need to motivate your audience (avoiding the other video that I shared in a previous post, of Mr. Rutelli promoting Italy, almost a decade ago).

I recently I saw more and more Italian commentators sharing the idea that maybe we need to import foreign managers: yes, I hinted to that as a joke once in a while, then as a semi-serious proposal, and recently.

As an American colleague that I quoted few times in the past said once, he saw that the key issue for the otherwise superbly creative and “adaptive” Italian managers who were raised within an Anglo-American management environment was that… as soon as they were set to lead an Italian team, the “social network” took the precedence over whatever they were supposed to do.

Some Italian newspapers today are celebrating Italian cuisine and its “win” against restaurant chains offering a different fare, but, frankly, if you look at the whole palette of what Italy has to offer, food, wine, music are just part of what is available: and the new, 3D-based manufacturing economy could actually be a natural fit for the traditional family-owned micro-company (and also few larger ones).

Well, I must say… tonight, while on a bus, closing my eyes, and listening to my FSI German to overlap with the music (nice soundtrack for a public transport: a song repeating tens of times ***hole :D), I started thinking to a song “vidi o’ mare quante e’ bello, ispira tanto sentimento…” (read it here http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Torna_a_Surriento);)

Yes, Italians are a) chatty b) gossip – to what end, I do not know; anyway, better to let them gossip, hoping that this will leave time to a few, happy few, a band of (well meaning) brothers to do something positive (yes, you know where I got the reference- but I still prefer the “Renaissance Man” version against the less credible Olivier one :D)

What I am referring to? A news item that I saw online as soon as I opened, few minutes ago, the website of an Italian newspaper: http://www.lastampa.it/2014/02/03/italia/politica/lue-bacchetta-la-politica-italiana-preoccupano-corruzione-e-criminalit-5G9WzKHPEOHeHqNt1k4gEJ/pagina.html

Meaning? It says that Italian corruption is worth 60bln EUR/year, 50% of the EU total, i.e. 4% of the Italian GDP (an improvement- I remember few scandals where somebody was called “Mr 5%”;) .

So, there is plenty of work to do.

Incidentally: yes, I kept my “sleep log” since early January, more or less at the same time when, bored of just laying down when already awake, I decided to at least read newspapers and share the links.

Commentary this morning from other “gossip Italians”? That that is a “macho” attitude.

It is yet another thing that I had more than once to “fix” with people working with or for me: being used to gossip and assuming that what is normal in your “circle” is what is normal for everybody generated some monster in business analysis, and even more devious one in everyday life.

Example? Basically, projecting on the customer what you would have done in their place, instead of listening and reporting.

My fav? a guy who decided to write reports from his interviews at the end of each week, after interviewing customers on… what he had no clue whatsoever about- I let you imagine how creative was his series of reports and specifications when I went in to get things back on track:D

Rest assured: there is no macho element- it is something much, much simpler.


I am one of those boring guys that thinks that “la puntualità è la cortesia dei re” (and I am republican, not monarchic :D): being punctual is a sign of respect.

But as I was “parachuted” on a new mission in a different customer or industry each day for a while, I learned quickly to do something else: pre-emptive fact-finding, and, if feasible, I got used to recycle a lesson from my Zen studies when I was a kid (yes, I was a voracious reader).

So, I tried to learn something about those I was going to meet (pre-Internet, this meant calling the manager or partner managing the relationship with the customer or prospect, and ask few questions), maybe grab a book or two to quickread during my travel or the night before (and I have a large library to prove that), to have a quick grasp of the “lingo” and feeling about the industry (no, not to act as an expert: just to be able to more easily do my job of getting requirements and exchanging information).

The Zen element? The first time I go somewhere, I get nearby earlier than when I am expected (also for job interviews), so that I can “size it up”, and also assess if it is feasible to do my usual quick walk- which, following my “Zen physiology”, means breathing at the same speed that I am walking (try it- it is easy, and useful to “empty your mind” and focus before a meeting, exam, etc.).

Why this digression? To just say: I saw that my sleep cycle was altered when in town, thanks to a gift from Brussels, and therefore I did some “check” to see if there was a pattern that I could use to get a routine- segmented sleep is now a scourge, while in the past was a useful element to avoid “jet lag” (I still do not suffer that much from jet lag, while over the last couple of decades I saw plenty of people showing the tell-tale signs of massive jet lag).

When I was going around Italy and Europe, I recycled my family’s trademark “segmented sleep” to split travel time into, you guess, segments- so, I am used in any travel to split my time between reading (with tablets it is easier, thanks to the screen), relaxing (MP3 and language courses, with their pattern repetitions, are almost a form of meditation), talking (if there is somebody worth talking with- I dislike gossip or uninformed “Monday morning coach” discussions), maybe thinking about some other activities, etc.

I actually did that also during my couple of travels to/from USA and a travel to/from Brazil in 2012: you cannot believe how rested you can feel after sleeping just few hours here and there, when you relax that way (and, thanks to my extensive past travels, when I switched bed each night, I can sleep also on rocks- seriously, I did that too).

To make a long story short: I am not going to share my “sleep log” (albeit I keep updating it- I will use it as a statistical analysis exercise), as I am still routinely having to discuss about my CV and its credibility, and I, for one, would not believe my sleep log if it weren’t that I saw it each day.

As for the CV: I surrendered- I simply move on, as there is just one life, and I rather spend it to work for a while on something productive that keeps my “brain wheels alive”, while working on preparing something else in my spare time, than spend another five years in pointless interviews around Europe.

So, better to just say: I promised in 2008, when my prior business network was basically dead, that I would have shared online whatever I deemed useful that I had no present or foreseeable business use for (i.e. business use on a realistic schedule, not the “one day” type).

I think that, as I see on a daily basis, there are people interested in having a short pointer in English, as i started to do few years ago, to news in other languages that are maybe worth “processing” through a multilingual friend or colleague, or even just GoogleTranslate.

Personally, I found that reading books or watching movies and documentaries early in the morning wasn’t as satisfactory as it is “digging” into newspapers (ok, online)- I like to visualize whatever I read (sometimes I wish I didn’t), and then to connect-the-dots, e.g. with previous news, books that I am reading, or maybe even something that I wrote and shared online (or did in business in a long forgotten past).

Again, reading news is now a nice routine (weekly between 5 something and 7 is the best time, as anyway my last “unintentional wake up” is earlier than that), and actually has a beneficial effect: you begin the day having a look at a larger picture, as I saw also in 2012 when I experimented, and can avoid being sucked into “tempest in a teapot”- something that, also when you do not get “semi-professional provocateurs/testers” (as I did once in a while, and almost continuously since 2008), it is relatively easy to have, at least in business, whenever you work day after day with the same people.

Example: I saw once a squabble between managers due to the number of drawers within their new desks… but I am quite confident that you too have plenty of cases.

Many people, also in business, say “think outside the box”- the trouble is: then, they stick not just in a box, but firmly close the lid, and cocoon within a tiny corner of one side of the box:)

As I said: I am doing that everyday, Mon-Fri (unless there is some trouble), also if my official target is to publish news before 9am (I started that way in January, then I began to do that earlier, for the reason that I shared above: I was bored to wait).

Of course, it has some positive side-effects, as my online connections see that I am more or less alive.

Therefore, do a favor to yourself (ok, it is also interesting for me): have a look at those links on Twitter.com/robertolofaro while sipping your first morning coffee- maybe you can find something that you did not think about, or maybe you could actually start doing that, e.g. with half a dozen newspapers in your own country, or half a dozen across languages that you know, or on magazines about subjects that you like.

Promise: if you start doing it in your own way, follow me on @robertolofaro, send me a DM on Twitter stating what is your “line of news links” (i.e. what you are going to share about), and I will reply- and, if it is a subject that I am interested in, I will follow you back for at least a week (to confirm that I am interested).

Suggestion: when you do that, use the original newspaper link, not a “bit.ly”, or “tinyurl.com”, as in most cases people are starting to worry about the potential spam/security issues, and some servers simply “deny” access to any of those “shortening address” sites (and, anyway, Twitter shortens them while showing the original link).

Oh, I almost forgot: the “travel light”… but that will be for the next week-end, when I will report also on another additional “fact finding” that I am doing.

Incidentally: I am using libraries as a way to replace my books now in Brussels, and also to keep my concentration and quick-analysis skills alive (today I went through few books focused on “destination marketing” and related branding and marketing issues- useful for what I am working on).

Last but not least: yes, I will share any new “connecting-the-dots” online, as I did last week with my most recent mini-book (see Slideshare.net/robertolofaro), on BYOD and the “Internet of Things” (from a non-technical perspective, as I needed a case study for my “Are you ready for change” workshop that I have been working on at the end of 2013).

Have a nice week: I will keep posting news (unless my connection fails!), and will post status updates and shared news once in a while on Facebook, while I will post here again on Sunday.



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