In evidenza

La partita

In letteratura quanti confronti tra personaggi sono basati su rituali non scritti ma reiterati all’infinito, quanti dialoghi, quanti incontri sono assimilabili a una partita?

Non sembrano sfuggire a questa logica i personaggi di questa storia, per cui ringraziamo Romeo Lucchi, già su queste pagine per #ioraccontobreve nr 8 e nr 7e per una insolita rilettura di Volare.

La partita

Ogni sera mi raccontava la stessa storia.

Rientravo a casa dopo una dura giornata di lavoro, cenavamo e poi lui mi raccontava la stessa storia. Tutti i giorni. Prima però dovevamo giocare la nostra partita.

«Lo sai Jack…» diceva restando in attesa. Mi chiamava Jack perché amava dare un tocco di internazionalità ai nostri nomi.

«Cosa Frank?» gli chiedevo. Era come giocare una partita a tennis: scambi di palla veloci, e tanta fatica.

«Molti anni fa quando ero giovane» continuava lui «ho fatto un viaggio. E sai dove sono andato Jack?»

poker

«E dove sei andato Frank?» non potevo non chiederglielo, se non lo avessi fatto lui avrebbe continuato all’infinito. Una sera avevo provato a non giocare, lui era diventato sempre più insistente e poi siamo arrivati alle mani. Era una furia. Non avevo scampo: dovevo giocare la mia partita. Non spettava a me decidere se farlo o no.

«Sono andato a Barcellona, in treno. Ero partito da Genova a mezzanotte. I miei amici mi avevano accompagnato in stazione, e c’era anche lei. Sei mai stato a Barcellona Jack?»

«No Frank. Mai.»

«È una bella città. Ci devi andare. Lo farai Jack?»

«Lo farò Frank.»

«Promettilo.»

«Te lo prometto.»

A quel punto, dopo avermi estorto la promessa, la nostra partita era giunta al termine e io ascoltavo la sua storia. Nel nostro gioco non c’erano né vinti né vincitori, si giocava e basta.

«Avevo appena conosciuto Lory» diceva «e fino all’ultimo ero indeciso se partire o no. Mi piaceva molto quella ragazza, ma non volevo rinunciare al mio viaggio in solitaria. Era la mia prima volta. Ormai avevo detto a tutti che sarei andato a Barcellona da solo e non potevo più tirarmi indietro, avrei perso la faccia. C’era anche Lory in stazione con gli altri. Ci salutammo come si fa tra amici, non volevo far vedere agli altri che ero pazzo di lei. Arrivai a Barcellona la mattina dopo. Non ricordo quanti treni cambiai, ma ricordo che l’ultimo era veramente scomodo, spartano, con i sedili di legno. Non riuscii a chiudere occhio e ascoltai musica tutta la notte col mio walkman. Avevo una tipa seduta di fronte molto più vecchia di me, truccatissima, sembrava una battona. A un certo punto tirò fuori la lingua e si leccò le labbra guardandomi dritto negli occhi, io li chiusi e feci finta di dormire. Girai per due giorni in città come uno zombie. Mi spostavo tutto il giorno in taxi e in metropolitana senza una meta. Non avevo pace e decisi di tornare. Mi fermai a dormire una notte a Nimes e rientrai a casa. Per prima cosa chiamai Lory. Mi prendeva in giro, diceva che invece di star via una settimana dopo due giorni ero tornato solo per lei, perché anch’io l’amavo. Due anni dopo ci siamo sposati. Siamo stati felici, ma poi lei se ne è andata».

nimes

Quello era il momento più doloroso. Frank cominciava a piangere e a nulla valevano i miei tentativi per consolarlo. Era straziante. A volte piangeva tutta la sera e spesso mi era capitato di sentirlo disperarsi anche la notte, quando ormai c’eravamo coricati da tempo.

Ci sono voluti mesi e tanta dedizione, ma un paio di settimane fa ho trovato Loredana, la Lory di Frank. All’inizio non voleva incontrarmi, ho insistito parecchio e sono riuscito a invitarla a pranzo. Siamo andati in un posto molto carino, cucina casalinga. Abbiamo parlato per tutto il tempo, ci siamo dilungati fino a tarda sera.

Tra meno di un’ora Lory sarà qui, con Frank… chissà, magari per sempre.

 

In evidenza

E’ nato prima l’uovo o l’impresa?

corso monnalisa 2

Ora facciamo sul serio. Dopo il rilascio del comunicato stampa la scorsa settimana e la pubblicazione sui principali giornali in edizione cartacea e online, Arezzo Ethic Academy”, in partenza a settembre 2020, è giunto alla vigila della sua seconda edizione. Le iscrizioni già cominciano ad arrivare. Adesso iniziano gli webinar di presentazione e di intereazione con interessati e semplici curiosi, visto che parleremo di startup e impresa. Si tratta di un progetto fortemente voluto da Fondazione Monnalisa, dal Convitto Nazionale di Arezzo e Licei annessi e dal Consorzio Arezzo Fashion. L’idea è sostenuta inoltre da altri importanti imprenditori aretini e non (Monnalisa spa, Giovanni Raspini, Sintra consulting, Max Mile srl, Del Siena, ecc), decisi a dare un volto nuovo all’economia del territorio. Prende vita una scuola di formazione che rappresenta una opportunità formativa e imprenditoriale di alto livello per giovani startupper interessati a cimentarsi con la concreata creazione di imprese, con particolare attenzione ai settori green, ethics and welfare e dell’economia circolare. Il corso, erogato in modalità blended con lezioni frontali in aula per 3 giorni alla settimana e la restante parte in e-learning tenute da un team di esperti estremamente qualificati nei settori di competenza, impegnerà gli allievi sino a Giugno 2021

QUINDI MARTEDI’ 30 GIUGNO VI ASPETTIAMO PER UN WEBINAR PROVOCATORIO E DIVERTENTE.  E’ NATO PRIMA L’UOVO O L’IMPRESA? DOBBIAMO PER FORZA TUTTI ESSERE IMPRENDITORI? 10 BUONE REGIONI PER CUI VARREBBE, FORSE, LA PENA DI ISCRIVERSI. ACCANTO A ME, VIRTUALMENTE,  PIERO IACOMONI, FONDATORE DI MONNALISA.

MONNALISA 3

 

In evidenza

Vision Project: a great chance and an honor/ Il progetto globale Vision una chance ed un onore

Vision 1It is a recognition that goes to all those with whom I have tried to work in an innovative way on the subjects of higher education in the strategic and entrepreneurial field, combining both creativity and innovation, in terms of methods and content.

E’ un riconoscimento che va a tutti coloro con cui ho cercato di lavorare in modo innovativo sui temi dell’alta formazione in campo strategico e imprenditoriale, conciliando creatività e innovazione, sia nei metodi che nei contenuti.

Ringrazio i 13 global sponsor per avermi scelto/I’d like to thank the 13 global sponsors for choosing me:

sponsor vision

The Vision project is supported by the Erasmus+ programme projects and it aims to engaging with 120 global stakeholders and experts across higher education, business, policy, and society to pave the way for the future of teaching and training for creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship.

Il progetto Vision è supportato dal programma Erasmus+ e si basa sul coinvolgimento di 120 stakeholders e esperti dell’alta formazione, del business e apparteneti al modno della politica e della società per definire il futuro dei processi di teaching e training improntandoli alla creatività, all’innovazione e all’imprenditorialità.

Vision 2

Vision 4Vision 3

Between Scylla and Charybdis: finance generating (only) other finance.

scilla e cariddi

It’s time for some clear statement about future investments and, above all, about the picture of the future startupper/entrepreneur we want to deal with.

Scylla and Charybdis were mythical sea monsters noted by Homer. Sited on the opposite sides of the Strait of Messina between Sicily and the Italian mainland, they were regarded as maritime hazards. Scylla was on the Italian side of the strait and Charybdis was a whirlpool off the coast of Sicily. Trying to avoid Charybdis meant passing too close to Scylla and vice versa.

At the moment, starting up is synonymous of innovation, enthusiasm and risk.

Well, this point of view is seriously endangered by two factors, two major risks surrounding startups.

With Uber shares sinking more than 15 percent below the stock’s initial price, in an article recently published in the NY Times the author hoped that the possible flop of UBER’s listing could represent an epitaph or at least a global warning for supporters of the “winner – take-all” venture capital style model. This distortive investment model, instead of focusing on finding good investment opportunities, aims to create an exclusive “super-unicorns club” (the unicorn is a startup company with an estimated value around 1 billion). This means that VC should only look for companies to be funded with checks between 500 million and 5 billion dollars, basically on the basis of some generic promises of future earnings.

Mainly we are talking about some self-fulfilling prophecies, where, by investing huge amounts in startups regardless of their economic results, many other investors are pushed to do the same. At the same time, these companies, including Uber, are given the opportunity to implement the strategy that was already Amazon’s one, such as benefiting their consumers with very affordable rates and products, simply because, thanks to the enormous funding received, their pockets are deeper than others. Being part of the club then allows this unicorn to do business, on paper very advantageous, with other companies like them, incidentally belonging to the same club.

In other words, we are definitely facing finance that generates finance, without many ties to the real economy and even less with innovation that should instead characterize startups.

This, in addition to diverting capital from really promising startups, and that’s too bad, would also send some wrong and distortive message to young entrepreneurs, something like “it is much better to be a showman than a entrepreneur“, and that’s even worse. a fundamental disconnect between public and private valuations. Not to mention the risks of domino effect an of massive loss of money that this huge disconnect between public and private valuations represents.

In other words finance that generates other finance

So much for factor nr.1

tra il martello e l'incudine

What about factor nr. 2?

Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) have gained a lot of attention over the past months as an ideal crowdfunding solution but the floor fell out due to the lack of proper regulation putting the investor at risk that also paved the way for fraud. This represented a major economic loss for focusing for investors focusing on blockchain and cryptocurrency-related opportunities.

Despite this major problem, somebody say there is a new turning point, able to represent in a few years a real tsunami for crowfunding and, in general, for venture capitalist. This solution is called STO (security token offering). An STO is a token offering that is similar to an ICO but its main difference is that STOs are regulated, because whereas ICO tokens are sold just on the promise of future utility, security tokens are instead bought for the explicit purpose of making a return on investment.

And here is the new magic spell: tokenization of venture capital. It seems fantastic: in the end tokenization of VC portfolios happens on the blockchain, which offers some additional layer of security, investors can be safer and much more because you are going to invest on tokenized VC portfolio, which means security of investment through diversification, traceability of investments through the blockchain. And on this way, somebody says, we can solve the problems VC are facing: the way-out on their investments, and most of all, the lack of liquidity due to the relatively small percentage of their financed startups having a consistent market success.

Yes, fine, but in future we also would like to have real companies and not with zombies just kept alive with the help of finance.

If you look at pitching material of such tokenization platforms, their mantra is always the same: distributing risk, making the VC job looking like another widespread investment product. But what has this to do with financing “the bold and the brave” startupper? Not much.

Again, the impression is that we are dealing with finance generating other finance

Hope that VC will continue to play “traditionally” their fundamental role on the industrial system, certainly using also the opportunities deriving from technology and evolution of financial world, but always staying grounded on having with their choices an impact on  “real” economy. And good luck to all startuppers having, in addition to their heavy tasks, to navigate between such two hazards, being therefore between a rock and a hard place.

Some key additional pitching hints

picthing 1.PNG

A few general hints on pitching (whatever are you going to pitch/communicate), useful for anyone, as emerging from today’s session. Thanks for the very high quality of your presentations and for your effort.

-beforehand, tell who you are and, briefly, how did you come with the idea.;

product (or service) is king: don’t grasp on details if you don’t show it enough through the use of photos and other illustration;

mission is how to win the battle, vision is about winning the war: they cannot look like each other and/or looking like program. They should represent an inspiring and memorable ideal (try to reading it to your audience while you are testing your presentation: now move to the next slide and try to ask if they remember it. If at least 50% pf people does, you probably did a rather good job;

Canvas is not a concept-fastfood, but instead a place for gourmet, interested in tasting good ideas: therefore you shouldn’t write either too few or too much words, but just the necessary to let people understand and make the right connections …and, by the way, very good if you do it with the help of graphics;

Customer segments: try to describe in a profile what makes that segment homogeneous …if you write down a profile of each category with 80 to 120 words, is perfect. And you may soon realize that a described segment is very often made of slightly different sub-categories…;

Revenues streams: that’s definitely not a secondary subject…try always to be specific on this subject…your potential investors will be happy with it!!!;

Partners, suppliers, or (even) customers? Especially when business model is sketchy it may happen one of the following things: 1. The role of a supplier is underestimated: is not simple to replace, the quality of your stuff is literally depending on it…maybe we are talking about a partner? 2. At the very beginning, there is no way to pay for the purchased service: that supplier MUST be involved as a partner, sharing (if possible) its future success/revenues 3. Sure that what you are indicating as a partner is not instead the real customer of your service? If it controls the necessary facilities, the business relationship and maybe some distribution channel…maybe you should change your mind…;

pitching 2

-always indicate at least 3 possible competitors, and instead 3 companies belonging to your business area that you consider very different from your model and/or having a somehow “old-fashioned” model comparing to yours. That would help you to reaffirm your identity and competitive advantage, and your public understanding clearly what makes you special and different;

Take time for your conclusions: try to give at least try key takeaways to your public, possibly as memorable as your vision.

-…and by the way…is there a possibility for shortening time to market and giving a try for an MVP? I know, easier if you are planning to sell a software, less feasible if your goal is opening a restaurant…but anyway always try to assess the feasibility of this point…

Corporate diplomacy: yet another (and not useful) attempt to label something that in facts companies don’t need.

corporate diplomacy

The business of writing books and papers about the subject labelled as “Corporate Diplomacy” is growing. Mainly they consist in a collection of generic and sometimes chaotic indications in order to grasp the new role that brands should play facing the challenges of changes, sometimes defined as catastrophic, imposed by globalization.

The standard topic is that companies, of every order and size, cannot avoid confronting themselves with international diplomacy and that they must take a sort of diplomatic standing in the social, environmental, and even political fields. In short, corporate diplomacy is exalted as a sort of cure-all for the social and environmental issues of the world, a breath of fresh air able to revitalize the archaic and inefficient diplomacy of the national states.

The general impression that is derived from the reading of such articles/books is that one is faced with the usual crude and repetitive ritual aimed, from time to time, at repainting/refreshing the conceptual facade of the strategic management “building” of a different color without however proposing any consistent or structural change or even suggesting new ideas.  It looks like corporate diplomacy is no more that some intriguing words, highlighting their uncertain conceptual consistency.

And yet there would be a need for new ideas, certainly, especially in the case of of the imminent and unspecified “cultural apocalypses” that await us.

Instead the well-known cases sometimes highlighted as examples of good/bed application of corporate diplomacy, and that concern f.i.companies like Starbucks, Dolce and Gabbana (f.i. the China-issue) etc, narrate situations of corporates in troubles with relationship with some of their stakeholders where in all probability it would have been much better to leverage existing categories, rather than blurring the minds of managers any further.

What indeed would differentiate the so called corporate diplomacy from the already existing (and still little used/adopted by so many companies) corporate social responsibility?

In this field, yes, there would be a need of some choral international action, aimed at defining some truly pervasive standards, unitary and in some cases even mandatory, of “non-financial reporting”, thanks to which the social/environmental balance sheets of companies could be improved, clearer, comparable and communicable outside. But this requires a real and sometimes unpopular commitment, as we know, where the effort lies not in imposing the “thinking of the brand” but to deeply discuss ethical problems and environmental issues with a common global approach between companies belonging to different geopolitical and social contexts, and with non-homogeneous and sometimes conflicting values and cultural paradigms.

The same is true for the evanescent proposed difference between corporate “diplomacy” and the already existing (and effective) techniques and themes of lobbying and public affairs, that can rely on a much more consistent and scientific framework, from all points of view, both practical and theoretical.

What need is there for other concepts?

corporare diplomacy 2

The behaviour of a company in a crisis situation is, or should be, regulated by communication techniques, crisis management and business continuity management: that these techniques and processes are currently well known and / or well applied by all companies is certainly an issue, but there is no particular need for adopting new categories.

On the other hand, there is a slight taste of ethical relativism that blows through the pages dedicated to corporate diplomacy.

Assumptions like:

  • Facts are no longer relevant, the paradigm of objective reality is over”: according to this vision, the pure verifiable facts count less than nothing, the only important thing is the prompt and sometimes opportunistic interpretation that company gives, leveraging stakeholder feelings not necessarily their rationality. What about the effort, this is what would be nowadays of even greater help and socio-cultural value, that some great companies of the past did to provide education, cultural preparation and argumentative skills to the communities with which they interacted? Nowadays the problem is to provide interpretative keys and reliable “certified” information sources based on facts, to foster people’s ability to build their own ideas and point of view, not the opposite.
  • Let’s move from stakeholder engagement to issue management“. That means in facts that instead of (wisely) paying attention to their stakeholders, of any kind, companies should now just “focus on those issues aimed to cause the greatest influence and impact on the business of the company itself “. It sounds a bit like providing companies with the perfect boy scout camping recipe, such as:

 a) concentrate (temporarily) on an issue (whatever you want, as long as it sounds interesting and it suits the business and is connected to your mission;

 ​b) influence on the same theme as much people you can on the globe regardless of the consistence of facts, but only on the basis of consumer’s emotionality, experience and perception: stakeholders, according to this vision, in the end do not exist, there is only a global audience there at firm’s disposal to be passively influenced by its communication techniques

c)when you have finished/you are satisfied with the results leave the topic and move on to something else.

This is probably the perfect recipe for a disaster.

Hopefully, companies would need just the opposite, f.i. studies and ideas aimed at characterizing organizations on the basis of a long-term, sustainable and consistent value system, deeply connected with real social and environmental needs of their communities and on a solid stakeholder dialogue.

This dialogue, as the principles of social responsibility clearly indicate, should always begin and end with people, however aggregated/represented.

This means that stakeholder should always come first and not the problems, as those are always defined in close relationship with the necessities/priorities and values of the former ones.

Entrepreneurship is enlightenment

enlightenment

On Christmas Eve light blossoms everywhere, even in the most unexpected places.  The same should be not just all around us, but in our spirits.

Entrepreneurship too has definitely something to do with light.

Entrepreneurship can a way of taking steps to find enlightenment: reconsidering the past without judgement for instance is a step in this direction, through moulding it into a repeatable experience that you can share with everyone.

But a step to enlightenment includes for sure looking for a positive environment: every good entrepreneur craves being in the kind of positive environment that creates firstly the incubator for their own growth and then for their firm.

And last but not least, looking at entrepreneurship as a road to enlightenment means being able to do other two important things.

The first is the ability to appreciate and enjoy details; while performing such an hard task as being an entrepreneur, every little light on your path is something worthy of your consideration: always accept it as a sign of confirmation that will help to keep you on your path.

The second is to cope with difficulties: where everybody sees failure, enlightenment pushes you to see endless possibilities, where everyone sees defeat, try to see understanding.  Light will lead you to come across as seeing the “silver lining” in anything. Pollyanna’s “glad game”, in the end wasn’t silly or mindless at all: teaches all of us to become aware. Aware of the potential of our optimism. If you stay tuned with light, (sometimes) magic happens.

Best wishes to all of you!

Doing business through listening

orecchio

We only see what we know” said once Goethe.

In entrepreneurial terms we do often the same. But, even more important we do often “listen only to what we like”. And, if we do, the chance of remaining what we are or, even worse, to fail, is very high.

Listening is entrepreneur’s very first friend, because is a powerful way of processing ideas, intuitions, emotions. Seeing sometimes can be immediate but also misleading, whereas listening can’t. It involves time and patience.

In conducting business, you’ll be busy with almost constant change management and with lots of people pretending their expectations to be taken into consideration by your business model. Both of these processes don’t involve at first speaking/pitching, but (apparently) the contrary: developing a deep listening attitude.

There are so many obstacles between a normal and an outstanding listening skill.

Many entrepreneurs and managers see their potential stakeholder like a mere on-demand moral support and reconfirmation service: as not so careful listeners they “download” from their words and messages only what they like and assume that counts as a reconfirmations of the ideas they already have.

More difficult, challenging and useful is being ready to analyse and listen even to those facts and consideration that at a first sight clearly contradict their own theories, being also prepared to change perspective for a while in observing reality.

So if as a human being and an entrepreneur you may learn to switch perspective and use for a while somebody else’s eye, your  listening skills and techiniques  instead are probably what more deeply personal and unique there is in your own identity. Nobody can listen the way you do nor you can ever do it in somebody else’s way. Therefore is so important and can make the difference for your startup project

Skilled listening, is a way of generating and testing new business ideas: it means in facts being able to pay attention to phenomena, eliminating background noise, and get the essential feedbacks from stakeholders, summarizing the content of their word. Mirroring, but in a creative way. (Then probably the better firms are the ones that are able not to mirror but to match, compensate and sometimes even counteract stakeholder messages, but that request time and starts anyway from a good listening phase)

In the end, that’s what a business plan represents: an entrepreneur is someone that find an original way of listening and then of creatively paraphrasing customers’ messages and statements in a way that both sound inspiring and reassuring.

What is essential is invisible to the eye”…but most of the times it can be well perceived by the ears!