-isms, part 1: the ‘whoever your favourite human being is’ paradox

There’s been some (but not enough) talking in Italy, in the last week, because not one, not two, but three different shows on national television (Rai) were based on the trope ‘sexual assault that was faked by the victim’. Many associations complained, but the conversation never really broke through to the really ‘decisional’ areas of politics (say, the parliament, or any of the major parties). But it’s always the woman’s fault isn’t it. She was wearing a tight skirt, is the point. She was drunk, is relevant.

One of the reasons why I left the country in the first place is the somewhat backward culture when it comes to inclusion: diversity is still not seen as a resource. Of course, I reckon that the cultural and historical factors change immensely between English-speaking countries, and Italy. I mean, we did try colonialism in the last century, but slavery was a major factor only millennia ago (this might be superficial, I reckon, if we consider the internal slavery systems present in Capitalism, which rely on enslaving based on class, rather than other -isms. However, this is not a topic I’d wish to explore now). This could probably be a reason why the convo re: skin colour is not really felt in Italy: we are indeed prone to evaluate one’s worth from the colour of their skin, but that’s not even the real problem-the real problem is that we barely talk about it. Blackface is not really a thing, in Italy-we don’t see the problem with it. I did not myself. It’s much more heartfelt here, for historical reasons. Don’t get me wrong, racism indeed exists in the UK, but it’s fiercely contrasted by the media, for instance. It’s part of the conversation. People of all walks of life supposedly are allowed any jobs. It’s not the same in my hometown.

The same goes for sexism: I can see sexism here, and I could see it back in Italy too. The difference is, over there it’s not even part of the conversation. The numbers are incredible, like everywhere else for that matter: 21% of women have been harrassed in some form *. Like, I’ve had 5 girlfriends in my lifetime, at least one of them has been harrassed sooner of later: quite cringy uh.

So I thought I’d start writing something about the topic. As ever, this is more to track moments in time, for myself, than for an actual audience.

My starting point about all -isms is what I call the Leonardo da Vinci Paradox (or the ‘[insert your favourite incredible human being here] paradox’, whatever): Leonardo lived during the Renaissance, let’s say around 1,500. In that period, the access to advanced studies, a meal to go back home to so that you didn’t have to gather or hunt it yourself, freedom, rights, contacts, and what we now consider basic privileges, were only granted if you were:

  • Man
  • Cristian
  • European
  • White
  • Adult
  • Cis
  • Hetero
  • Landowner/rich
  • I might be forgetting points but you get the gist

This would ridiculously diminish the possibility of someone finding themselves in the condition to skill up so much that they’d paint the Ultima cena, or anticipate flying objects by centuries, or advance anatomical knowledge, etc. Now let’s assume that there are as many women as there are men, in the world (it’s actually more than that). Let’s say 50/50%. Were women allowed the same life as men, we’d have had not one but TWO Leonardo’s; TWO Einstein’s; TWO Newton’s; TWO Laplace’s. Can you imagine where we humans would be in that scenario?

And what if we also included non-white people? LGBTQ+? What if we did not value one religion as a necessity to study at our schools (and this is still the case in many countries, including Italy, including the kindergartens (!!))?

So this is to say: the idea that women having more rights will hurt men, is laughable: not only will it not hurt men, but it’ll be actually beneficial. Working towards respecting other people no matter what, is more important than we realise.

Imagine the wonderful things we could do, if we could all study, and travel, and work, and do with our bodies as we please.

BTW, if you know the Italian language, or are learning it, Il Post is THE ONE AND ONLY online resource you should read: many mainstream newspapers are bog roll at best

Soundtrack:

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:

How can the Coventry Uni Digital Marketing postgrads be better than me at Digital Marketing?

I mean, I’ve been doing this for 10 years. More like 11-when it was less that ten, I’d say ten to look better, now that it’s more than that I still say 10 to look younger lol

But anyway.

While Contrapoints is playing Oblivion live on YT on the background, not really sure why, I recognise how much my priorities have changed in the last couple of months-I actually think it’s of course an ongoing process, so in the last few months they must’ve change exactly as they would have changed in any other time Delta in my life: I guess it’s just that the direction has changed, indeed. I’m growing more and more aware and conscious of the power I have as a cis white EU man with a decent salary and a loving-enough family and friends I can talk to. A roof. A stable enough braind (someone made up the phrase ‘very stable genius’ I remember, with which one might not want to identify oneself).

Anyway, the point is: I am now in the process of trying to understand how I can better use what I have to help other people. Is it for altruistic reasons? Or is it for some aynrand-ish egoistic reasons (I do good to others only because it makes ME feel better)? Sticazzi, I don’t care. If one changes the universe for the better, how can that be wrong right? I don’t personally think the latter position is even maintainable at all, but that’s a whole other story.

So, what is it that I have?

I have some things that everyone have: helping an old lady cross the street is something anyone can do. What do I have, that is special and only some people can offer? Well for one, I have a (very modest) amount of money I can share with people, which is something not everyone can say. I have some musical knowledge, but I wouldn’t say I can teach that (maybe a bit, like being able to distinguish between the only two types of music there are: good one, and bad one. Might post about in the future, dunno). But I surely have a wealth of Digital Marketing knowledge that I can share. Better say, I MUST share.

When I started, I moved to an unknown country (Estonia <3) with just a big bag and no knowledge at all about anything worth mentioning-well, I was a kickass Holy Priest in WoW, but that’s beside the point. Someone brought me there, gave me shelter, taught me some basics, gave me a salary to stay all day in front of the computer, which is barely even a real job right? So without any rights I took profit of it and kicked off with no merits at all, besides being curious and having friends. As Arnie would say, much wiser man than he’s given credit for: there’s no such thing as a self-made person. The people around you will always make the difference, and thus it was for me.

So teaching. Sharing stuff. I know A LOT about a very minor, unimportant, little slice of human knowledge, which more importantly is a bit of knowledge that people can make a career out of: so maybe one person can earn a living through a job they like, and maybe I can help them achieve that.
I want to repost something I wrote on LinkedIn yesterday:


So yesterday I’ve joined a few talented postgrad guys from Coventry University [their site] to discuss some great projects they are creating. I think we’ve all had a good time-for one, I certainly did.

Reflecting about it, this makes me happy and humbles and astonishes me for several reasons:
1) If only one of the stupid feedback I gave will be useful for only one of them to think about, I’ve done the greatest thing I can possibly do with my knowledge right now.
2) These guys are SMART. I mean, I was not like that when I was their age! I was probably screwing around and not knowing where to go and wasting my time; and to think that they think that they can learn from ME…wow
3) The walks of life of people from all over the world! Getting to know someone who wants to be a musician, or an influencer, or sell their own creations online-or even witnessing the magnificence of the decisional process of people who are still choosing where to go in their life, and have all the skill to kick ass whatever they choose.

It’s amazing, loved every bit of it so thank you Vani Aul.


So that’s it, nothing special. I’m humbled by the thought that I can have an impact on the life of a person from the other side of the world. We have absolutely nothing in common, except absolutely everything that we are as humans, and our lives touch for a few minutes and will probably never meet again. I think of how incredible this is, of how little a cog I am in the glorious process of evolution of the human race. As an atheist I don’t believe in miracles, but I do believe in miracle-like improbability-this kind of interactions put me in direct contact with this idea, and make me feel that in the grand scheme of things humans are indeed evolving, in the long long run, and there’s nothing to be afraid of, and in 1,000 the world will be better, everybody will be happy, and knowledgeable, and able to live life as they want.

Meanwhile Natalie ate a burger in live stream and looks quite drunk. I’d like to be that level of brave, someday.

Soundtrack: End of forever by Samsara Blues Experiment

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