Of coincidences, books, business cases, and storytelling


Caveat: don’t take this post too seriously- the real aim is… to give you few links and reading suggestions (no, not my own books- but books in my paper&digital library).

What are coincidences?

“The human mind delights in finding pattern—so much so that we often mistake coincidence or forced analogy for profound meaning. No other habit of thought lies so deeply within the soul of a small creature trying to make sense of a complex world not constructed for it.”
― Stephen Jay Gould, The Flamingo’s Smile: Reflections in Natural History

Today I spent the day at the “Salone del Libro” in Turin (what do you expect from a bookworm? Of course I was going to visit it)- you can visit the site at salonedellibro.it (this year the guest nation is Germany- so my last conference of the day was a “lectio magistralis” on the impact of German culture that, frankly, was what I call “erudite padding”- how to stretch a short speech into a long one by adding just quotes and dropping names; that just by chance I had read almost all the books he was hinting at did not make it less “padding”; but the conference- not the fair- was free, wasn’t it? :D).

This year obviously I had other reasons- to cross-check and update information for publishers and authors (as this could be part of my future, after my transit through Turin/Rome/Brussels/Turin over the last decade :D).

And I must confess that I had a couple of “conference changes” that were actually wonderful choices (e.g. I had not expected to hear a conference on “scouting” for agents and translators that packed in few minutes decades of experience- impressive).

Tomorrow I will complete something, as I wrote this morning:
“NOTAM: today no Internet, just checking email and LinkedIn (except if I find something Simpson-esque enough to be worth sharing- so, I tagged yesterday few times an appropriate link for my locals :D)

so, no news just a #bookworm #day and few conferences on and around books

for those in Turin: I will be wearing a bright orange CK polo shirt, no hair, and carrying a backpack that will collect catalogues during the day 🙂

see you at the http://salonelibro.it 🙂

PS: I am 95% into my Chinese A1 A2 reading (and limited talking)view so… I will move on, while exercising on HSK 1 and 2 characters over the weekend, and resuming my parallel bilingual reading in German/Italian on Bismarck)

PPS on Saturday I plan to spend some time relaxing by re-reading some material on Go/Weiqi/Baduk- see you soon on KGS :)”

Frankly, I did not want to attend the book fair on the opening day, as I try to stay away from authorities, ceremonies, etc., but this time I had to, as the conferences I wanted to follow were today 🙂

So, first coincidence: I was able to avoid the authorities during the opening, but then…
“#Simpsonesque and #ForrestGumpesque moments at #Salonedellibro 🙂

as I wrote this morning, considering that I have some spare time due to an expected inability to attend a conference…

first, the Simpsons-like: I was in too early (to avoid being late), and therefore I had over one hour standing in parallel lines while waiting to buy my ticket

funny- while reading, all around me there were “speeches” going on: interesting, as those who had less arguments talked extensively, and, the longer they went, the more they tried to “gentrify” their language to turn dialogues into lectures- generally taking along with their detour some significant creative freedom more than just mere licenses on reality (and leaving as a collateral damage the Italian language) 🙂

but being in the middle of few, parallel speeches going on at the same time on how to reform Italy is certainly an experience 😉

as for the FG side… I went for a conference, but (unmarked on the timetable, where it was listed with other professional events that have free access), I was asked additional accreditation credentials, so I turned back

and, on the way back, I had to step aside as the Italian President and the Mayor of Turin (and dozens of other people) were passing through

last time that it happened? when the car with the then sitting Italian President and his German counterpart was escorting them to a local event 🙂

more seriously: next week, after completing the first draft of all the episodes of the #QuPlan business case (to be released over the next few months for free via robertolofaro.com/books and few other sites), I will share some business commentary based on my minutes of the events that I will attend today (if available, as sources I will share streaming links- otherwise, just my minutes) 🙂

PS If you see some inconsistency in wording: I am using a tablet, and Android keeps replacing words with other words :D”

But it wasn’t the end.

On my way out of the book fair, I met a guy selling books who looked and sounded like a colleague of mine in Brussels, who was from Senegal (Mamadou, I see to remember), and when this guy showed the “open palm”, we both were surprised- as I we slapped hands and had the same handshake that I had in Brussels with the colleague and others 😀

And it wasn’t finished.

I decided to cut short my walk (today it was both way too warm and with a whirlwind of pollens, dust, and hot air)- and thought about Brussels and… a beer at the end of the day 😀

My online friends know that I am usually an Irish dark pint social drinker, but with this weather, I was looking for something refreshing.

OK, I remember now: in Italy, usually pubs open at 6pm (or even later), they aren’t open all the day as in Brussels or London 🙂

So, I had to walk some more and… ended up in a bar in a wonderful square of Turin (it is worth visiting the town just for its architecture, river, and parks- in town and on the hills surrounding it), Piazza Vittorio.

Lo and behold… I had a Belgian choice, and then added some chip from a chain theoretically from The Netherlands- with my routine “samurai” sauce (I might be wrong, but it tasted stronger in Brussels!).

And then… I had the last coincidence- as on the streetcar to my bus I looked at two passengers and, despite Italian clothing, I thought “they seem Belgians, notably the man”, and then… I was exchanging short information on directions in my Dutch/German and eventually switching to English (as neither of us knew which language to use 😀 but then, I head the woman speaking Dutch)

Well, I wish I had this kind of coincidences everyday- entertaining 🙂

Anyway, tomorrow, except for my news round in the morning, it will be a day focused on completing the Chinese round I wrote about above, before moving on, and both tomorrow and over the week-end I will work on the drafting, so that next week I can have something structured enough to inspire writing…

…another mini-book on a “business process” that I used since forever (probably, some of the officers and NCOs that were my “students” while I was teaching a course on information technology and basic rudiments of programming will remember some of the storytelling and similes that I used, as, after over 10 years, customers at a banking customer still remembered how I managed to get them to recover “spatial intelligence”- using… paper and scissors :D)

“Storytelling” is a concept that I heard and read often today, but each time I kept asking myself: beside the marketing and “lingo”, what is really new? Even when, to keep in the classroom while in high school, I was asked to prepare for my classmates a lesson on thermodynamics (obviously, rocket engines), I did what had done as a 9-10 years old to explain the history of Egypt and Greece to my 2 years old brother: visualize it and tell a tale 🙂

So, if a 9-10 year old could improvise it, do you really need to make such a fuzz? No, you just need to read a lot about history.

And, incidentally, that can also be quite cheap, if you have a computer or a tablet.

Just visit this link: https://archive.org/details/Harvard-Classics

I downloaded it a while ago, and I had planned to re-read it all once I had “stabilized” a little bit my Chinese and German.

As the former is almost done (at a basic level, and B1-B2 or similar to start soon), and the latter will be soon (at an intermediate level in reading, before digging more in my collection of documentaries, movies, and other training material in German), reading those books will be my background reading for the next 52 weeks from June.

Of course: I will still be on history and other business books, and therefore I will share reviews once in a while on http://www.librarything.com/aleph123.

But there are few structured collections of classics out there- so, it will be entertaining to re-read some (that I already read either in English or other languages), read others that I read only in segments (yes, compulsory school reading :D), and few more 🙂

Sometimes, I have been asked by customers and colleagues how I could develop ideas (even in business strategy or tactics)- but it is relatively simple: build a springboard through reading, and stand on the shoulder of giants while moving on.

It might be that neither you nor I will become the next Newton (yes, the source of the quote- interesting chap, that wasn’t really the mono-dimensional genius that we are taught about in school), but most certainly both you and I will waste less time (our own and of others) re-inventing a “conceptual wheel” while there is a good one that is just on the shelf…

Example: if I say- Pyrrhic victory, Gordian knot, Cannae strategy, or describe a process as byzantine… being a fairly decent reader helps you to take that as a shortcut for something that would take pages to be described.

If you are so inclined, on archive.org you can find also books and collections derived from other cultures (e.g. China and Asia, in my case)- generally, whatever is already out of copyright; if a book is just out of catalogue but still in copyright, often it is available on Google Books (or whatever is called now- its interface drives me crazy, so I try to avoid it whenever feasible- but I still have an account there).

And now… I will move onto something different- trying to fix a digital camera 😀

Have a nice week-end!


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s