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:

On Simone Biles, and being OK with being a loser

There’s been a lot of talking about Simone Biles withdrawing from several events at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics (maybe all, the events are under way as I write).

And of course, a lot of ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY chit chat on social media. Well, here’s a couple of ABSOLUTELY UNNECESSARY POINTS from me too.

Point one: a message for all of those commenting on how right she is, that having everybody talking about you is extremely stressful, and that all of that attention can lead anyone to dark places, et cetera…I mean, you do realise the irony yeah? ‘People need stop talking about her’, says online white knight talking about her. Genius.

Secondly: the message that accepting your weakness is the sign of being a winner is intrinsically wrong. If you withdraw you do not win; if you do not win you are not a winner; if you are not a winner, you are a loser. I mean, it’s not that hard.

Rather, the point ought to be: it’s OK to lose. Back to my point about the lesson I learnt from Roberto Baggio. It’s OK to not be on top of the mountain: if you are second, you are second, and it’s fine: do not take that silver medal off your neck in disgust (as I’m seeing in football quite too often). It’s a great achievement indeed! But at the same time, do not think that you are a winner: you lost, it’s fine, you can accept it, and try harder, if you want, next time. If you don’t want to, it’s fine as well.

There’s so much stigma around not being the number one, it’s sickening. Leave the poor girl alone, she didn’t feel like competing, there’s someone else who’ll be the winner here, it’s fine. Just leave her alone. What I hope for her is, she’ll manage to be OK with being a loser.

On Roberto Baggio and accepting failure.

Roberto Baggio was not the greatest footballer of all times. Let me say it straight away: many nostalgic Italians, very used to magnificent defenders and goalies, but mediocre forwards, consider him in the top 10 ever at least – they are just wrong. I understand them, but cannot objectively agree. However, this is only partially important in this context. It is only because I do not fall in the category of those compatriots of mine for whom Baggio was a saint, and the lesson he taught me has little to do with football.

Nevertheless, he was very good – for a couple of years surely among the top. He single handedly dragged a quite boring Italy to a boring final of a boring World Cup in 1994. I remember risking being chased by a few angry relatives of mine because 12 YO me was supporting Brasil – I was a sucker for their game, and patriotism is very alien to me, what can I tell you.

Netflix Italia know that Italians will always fall for their football heroes, or maybe we simply don’t have good film makers anymore, so they produced Il Divin Codino, a film on Baggio’s career. The film will come out in a couple of weeks, and will probably not deserve any awards. But as I was watching the trailer yesterday, a thought struck me: in spite of not having a loving, admiring connection to Baggio, and being quite sure that the film will be poor, my perceived experience is, and unconsciously always has been, enriched by his story. With a lesson that I cherish more than most, and quite literally changed my life at a certain point:

It's OK to fail.

Roberto Baggio was young, handsome, rich, and controversial. Controversial because he was always too smart for football interviews; controversial because in spite of being a superstar, he now lives in the countryside and very rarely appears on TV; he was controversially a Buddhist in a very Catholic nation; he chose to move to Juventus from Fiorentina, causing riots.

The whole nation really saw him as a God back then. Italy does not consider football as a mere fitness and sportsmanship exercise: we are closer to Brazil than to England in this sense. People pray to their saints if their team wins, cause riots when their footballers join other teams, and quite often physically clash with rival fans. In a poor country, football is seen as a relief, rather than an exercise (and this is known and used by many a politician, panem et circenses right?). When Italy did win the World Cup in 2006, it was the best of their life for many people. So imagine the status that carrying the national team to a final would give you. You own the country. Were it not for the constitution, people would vote you for king.

So a mediocre team of a peripheral country makes the final, in conditions of incredible heat and not-so-much-interest by the American locals. Facing Brazil’s Bebeto and Romario, Cláudio Taffarel, Dunga: a very strong side, though admittedly not the best Brazil ever. Italian manager Sacchi is not loved by the fans, the team’s play was always quite lacking. But Baggio sparks all of the few lights that led to an unexpected final.

The match itself is VERY boring. The interesting part is boring itself, by design: penalties. A moment embedded in all of our minds, ask any Italian.

A fallen God. Roberto misses his chance for eternal glory as a footballer. He also misses the penalty by quite a bit – a really ugly one indeed. He seems to want to overdo it, by smashing it in the top corner. Almost like wanting to send a desperate message of hope to the team, but missing. What makes this story interesting though, is that he does achieve, somehow, eternal glory as a person, a human representation of all of us. People never ceased to love him. He was ever humble, before and after the fall. He is just a person, who did not let his immense talent take over him. A person with a simple side and a rebel side, with talents and flaws. Like anyone.

After the World Cup, Baggio kept playing, maybe his best years, in smaller teams. He played amazingly in Brescia, and to this day his team mates are very frank in saying how they could not believe they were playing with that icon. They also could not believe the level of game they were witnessing day in, day out. Pep Guardiola, another legend, played with him for 1 year or 2. I want you to watch at a couple of minutes of this video: Guardiola introduces Baggio to Lionel Messi. To contextualise: Guardiola is (probably) the best football manager of all times; and Messi is (probably) the best footballer of all times. Now, see how Guardiola speaks of Baggio. Like a teenager with his poster on the side of the bed. So much so, that both Messi and Baggio look a bit embarrassed.

Thinking about it, Baggio missed penalty taught me that even the best can fail. It's OK to fail, to stay human. Indeed, it's a requirement.

Baresi, another legendary but less flashy football giant, also missed his penalty that day: he’d miraculously recovered from a severe injury only to make the final, his appointment with history: the images of him unapologetically in tears after the loss are, again, embedded in our nation’s collective mind.

I don’t like the idea of having idols at all, and neither Baggio or Baresi are. But I do think that there’s a lesson to learn from their tears after the missed penalties. Even the best will make mistakes, and you, too, are allowed yours. It’s OK, the world will go on, and you will be alright. You are a victim of the general idea that you must race, you must succeed, no matter the consequences. You might lose happiness, but at least you won the race, is what society lead us to believe. You must build a wall of money and success around you, is the zeitgeist.

In the grand scheme of things, a penalty kick that would have created happiness for 60 million people can still go wrong: and you know what, it’s alright. And if that is OK, you can afford to not make your life a first-place-or-death race, don’t you think? You can be a hero, or not: you can be whatever you want to be, and you are still special.

Sure, let’s celebrate Italian fascism on Twitter, why not

Looks like a great idea, surely most responses will be positive. You gotta tweet something right!?

So the Italian Marina Militare (the Navy) (yeah I mean, the Official Navy of the Italian state) posted a couple of tweets, such as this one (see pic) in which they celebrate WWII attacks to Greece.

Let’s set up some quick context.

Greece is a sovereign state if I’m not mistaken, and was such 80 years ago as well – just probably worth mentioning.

Greece were NEUTRAL, and Italy single-handedly attacked them.

Italy was a Fascist regime.

Italy ended up being soundly defeated on most battlefields, showing a lack of preparation which costed a lot to our German allies. And luckily so, some might say. A beautiful display. And on top of this, the way that little bit of history is studied at school is utterly ridiculous, it almost looks like we were invaded by the Fascists, and we were all partisans, and all that. Poor us.

So I just wanted to put this here, as a reminder for myself. When the conversation in the UK goes in the direction of ‘this country is not progressive enough’, and I will be tempted to see it that way, I will want to have this, here, to remind myself of where it is that I come from. That shameful bug, I want it to be there always.

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