New job, new life

It’s been a while!

A lot happened to me in the last few months, so much so that 1) I now struggle to put in line exactly what it is that I should probably write about and 2) I really had the feeling that I was not going to write about anything at all, because I had too much to write. Not that anyone cares, since this blog is but for future-Enrico, but anyway.

So first of all, I left Blue Array back in August. Those who know me, and I’ve spoken to during the first half of the year, know the whys and hows and it’s not really worth going back on the things that did not really work for me over there; I’d rather consider, and it’s easy to do since they are quite clear in my head, all of the good things that happened to me-and these, all things considered, have everything to do with some (not all) of the people in my team. With some of them I’ve built a relationship that goes well beyond the workplace, really strong bonds as far as I’m concerned that will last forever and are really worth the world to me. Gratitude, is what I feel. Like a buddy of mine moved on to another agency, with a promotion included, and is going to run a webinar on International SEO next month or so, and I’m so proud. Doesn’t get any better than that, really.

So after that there’s been the Blue Array Summer Bash, which was the first time of me meeting a lot of the people, and all of them for at least 18 months, so it was great: it was also my last day there.

I needed to move on, and two things were in my ‘dream job’ scenario: I thought that my role had to be a head of SEO one, and I would’ve liked it to be in house. Both of these actually happened, as I joined Raketech. I was not particularly looking at the iGaming industry, and the one thing that really made me decide without any second thoughts is how much I liked the three people who interviewed me. It was very clear that they liked me, too, which is important: I’ve done dozens of interviews, and found that the best thing to do is really to be who you are. That way, you’ll be sure that people are willing to hire you, not someone else.

So I’ve started now and it’s quite confusing, but I can also see that I can make a great job, bringing my more ‘agency’ experience in a different context. Really a lot of possibilities and interesting stuff to do. Let’s see what comes of it, I’m very positive, curious, and enthusiastic.

Soundtrack:

There I go, tossing words around again

Just back from my first trip back home to Sardinia for the first time in two years, couldn’t be happier. I’ve kept complete radio silence pretty much on all media, no regrets at all – if anything, I highly recommend it!

Anyway, whilst I was probably on the beach sipping Ichnusas, the wonderful Mordy Oberstein went online with the new instalment of his The SEO Rant! podcast, featuring yrstruly.

We go on a rant about ethics, the need to create a better online environment, and the responsibilities we have as content creators. Check it out on the SEO Rant website, I’ll embed the Spotify widget down here. Oh and I also want to mention the EnRic&Mordy pun, of which I’m superproud.

Ps. I solemnly swear that Mordy did not pay me for those two links (yet 😬 )

On award-winning awards, and award-organising companies awarding award-winning companies.

I have been in award-winning teams before, and having now been behind the scenes in another team that is, currently, in the shortlist for more European awards (these) is naturally a pleasure. It tickles one’s ego, of course, so on one hand I subjectively appreciate it; on the other, I want to be as unbiased and objective as a person can be. Hence, I want to publish these thoughts before knowing whether the team will actually win or not. Because if they do win, I’ll of course be happy and proud of them 😊

Thought number 1: marketers rubbing their own backs

So first of all, because this might not be clear to everybody: applications to awards cost money. Not all, admittedly: those that I know, therefore considering the Digital Marketing industry only – although I’m sure it’s the same across the board. So if your campaign is better than mine, but for whatever reason you do not submit it, (crucially including you want to, but have no money to apply), I will be awarded and you won’t. So if I am a big company, or a cheeky one, I’ll simply apply to hundreds of awards a year, and will end up winning a couple for mere statistical reasons. I am already a large, rich agency, and winning awards will make me larger and richer, and…you see, an upward spiral that looks very much pumped by who’s got more money to begin with: capitalism 101.

On top of that, there are A LOT of awards: each call themselves prestigious, and each are pushed by those who win it (the award that I won is the most prestigious!). So how prestigious is an award, really? I’ve had instances (won’t name names) in which you could at the same time run for the award, and sponsor it: how is this OK? Oh an how about those that are organised by companies that are somehow siblings to other companies that can take part to the race?

And we do like to comment how good we are, how our team is the best, how we love our clients. “What’s my Unique selling proposition (USP)? I’m not only an agency for my client, I’m more of a consultant! Dare I say it: a friend!”. Isn’t this the SP (not very U, at this point) of a thousand Digital Agencies out there?

Self promotion is important indeed: nevertheless I often find it extenuating, frustrating, is all. Especially when I know is false: a company I worked for in the past, a toxic environment where I was miserable and harrassed and all that, is co-ho-honstantly posting on Social Media about how good they are. It’s was hell, and the thing is, they most definitely knew. What you’ve got to do is, you always have to be true.

Thought number 2: an award is an effect

This is more boring, more personal, probably more relevant to me than the first one. It’s got to do with causality.

Generally speaking, I like to think about causes, not effects: if you modify the cause, it’ll trickle down to the effect too (teach a person how to fish, rather than giving them a fish). So if I play my best football, but still lose, I can still be happy, since victory was an effect.

Now, there’s several things that can intervene in obtaining a certain effect: on some one can work, improve, actively make better, and on others one cannot. You can train harder, but you cannot control your shoelaces breaking off minutes before the game. The stoic will say that one should only be concerned with those things that one can control. You just train as hard as you can, and vet the status of your equipment as best you can, and that’s it; if it breaks, it breaks.

An award is an effect, not a cause. The cause that you can control towards winning an award is, doing a high-quality job. And since quality is a relative concept, let’s simplify the idea: you just do your best, at all times. Is that enough to win an award? No, it’s not: there’s the whole thing I described in point 1, there’s chaos (or call it luck), there’s your competitor, a lot of stuff outside of your control. A judge is more likely to be benevolent with entries that they read after lunch, than before lunch (as they’ll be in a better mood): if that’s the level of variability one has to deal with, one cannot possibly think they can assess everything.

Hence, is it really how many awards your team brings home, that you should evaluate them for, or is it the effort that you witness day in, day out?

Soundtrack:

Turns out I can’t quite speak about philosophy in Italian

Not that I can in English either, honestly. But this is something interesting that’s happening: I know all the SEO mumbo-jumbo in my native language, and can talk about that easily: but one thing I noticed is, I’ve got a whole area of knowledge – no matter how small the latter is relative to the field – that I’ve always studied in English: philosophy, psychology, Artificial Intelligence, and that sort of stuff. I’ve been reading exclusively in English for like, what, the last 6/7/8 years, and all I read about these topics I did in this period. I am literally missing words. Or better, I do have the words, but I miss the jargon.

Yesterday I was lucky enough to be called to speak about SEO at the Web Marketing Festival, Italy’s largest event on digital, technology, and such. They probably were not expecting a partly-philosophical speech, but hey that’s what I do – what I like. I think there’s plenty of people better than me at talking case studies and empirical evidence: I like deductive reasoning and asking questions (also, I believe the industry as a whole would benefit from being more challenging of the status quo). But anyway.

It was great, I was introduced by my compatriot Sardinian Filippo, whom I remember being one of the speakers at the very same conference, back in 2006 (maybe? Not sure about the date tbh) when I attended. So it was great to think that I am now even at the same level of wonderful professionals such as him. Boosts my spirit 🙂 I can’t even begin to describe how hard it must be to create and manage a digital agency in the midst of Sardinia, it sure takes courage and talent.

I mention him because he’s Sardu, but actually the whole host of SEOs and marketers around the event is (always has been) absolutely amazing, so kudos to my buddies Angelo, Cosmano, Vito, and Giorgio for managing to build such an amazing platform over the years.

Anyway, I had to rush the final part of my deck because it was taking a bit longer than expected, and in hindsight I reckon it’s because of the language. I’ll consider it next time – but overall, it was great! 😊

Soundtrack: Discovery by fox capture plan