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Archive for Talent Development


Silicon Valley is the cradle of a unique way relevant to innovation, entrepreneurship and global business development. To note that this legendary geographical does not simply relate to the latest technological developments but also to the way they are stimulated and made grow through original business models and a business ecosystem that in terms of structure and mindset is arguably still unrivalled on a global scale. We have had the opportunity to talk to an Italian student that has recently had an in depth organised learning experience there.

Gianluca Biggi participated to a 2017 PhD+ programme and he was one of the winners. This gave him the opportunity to partecipate to an entrepreneurial training in Silicon Valley lasting 2 weeks in Menlo Park. This has been an enlightening experience from a professional and personal point of view. That kind of experience that are set to empower a new vision for the own professional path driven by: continuous learning, active knowledge sharing and never forgetting to stay ‘rooted to the ground’ while envisioning the future.

Tell us about your program at the Silicon Valley Business School during the TVLP (Technology Venture Launching Programme) course?

(Gianluca) “The course was held at Menlo College in Menlo Park and was characterised by frontal lectures by professors from the top universities in California, U.C. Berkeley, Stanford, and Santa Clara. Not only, we did lot of visits to the major firms and startups of the Valley and we participated to several networking events with managers and investors”.



(Gianluca) “To fully understand the scope of the experience in Silicon Valley, is important to focus to the evolution of this area and on what make it the largest technology ecosystem in the world. In the early twentieth century this area was known for the great quantity of orchards enough to make it the world’s capital of fruit. Progressively, with the onset of the Cold War, the war industry began to develop. The term Valley can be misleading, in fact, it is better to define this area as a large manufacturing district that includes many industries. The development of an area including 6 million of people with $ 600 billion of GDP has been possible thanks to the (fundamental) presence of important universities, venture capital funds, adequate infrastructures and a culture of attraction and integration from talented people from all over the world.

The trajectory of all this was the development of the semiconductor industry produced by legendary companies such as Fairchild semiconductor, INTEL and Signetics. All this was coupled with the growth of numerous venture capital facilities that founded tall those startups that could not get credit from the traditional banking system. Thanks to investments, continued research and development in the semiconductor industry between the 1970s and the 1980s led to the development of the mainframe computer industry and companies such as Apple, IBM and Sun Mycrosystem were created. Likewise, and thanks to the knowledge developed over the years, the next were characterised by the development of corporate software such as Oracle, VMware and Citrix until the 2000s characterised by the explosion of social media such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn”.



There is a picture that was shown to us by the title “Silicon Valley Tech Innovation Ecosystem” during one of the lessons of the course and was in my opinion the most emblematic.

By meeting people working in Silicon, by visiting their offices and moving around this area, you can understand how this today represents an enormous technology ecosystem where the resources generated by people who succeed in business success, are constantly reinvested in new entrepreneurial initiatives.

About ecosystems, from an entrepreneurial point of view, would you be able to better describe the logic that drives investors and entrepreneurs in general?

Certainly, these are the aspects that most affected me. Let’s start from the notion that as far as the environment in which a startup is extremely competitive and the mortality rate of the latter is extremely high. Entrepreneurs and investors usually take into account a mortality rate of businesses around 98%, but despite all, they continue to invest looking for the new Google, Facebook or Uber. Another factor of great concern is the consideration of bankruptcy in the business environment. Many entrepreneurs yin Silicon Valley have launched the fifth, sixth or seventh startup and they “failed” in all. That is a factor that is not considered as a shame or is hidden, indeed, people tend to appear and parry before their “Defeated” than their “victories”. In this case, the lack of entrepreneurial success means only having acquired a wealth of knowledge to reduce the risk in subsequent economic initiatives, so investors (always paying due attention) privileged projects presented by people who in the past have been tempted more than a startup.

At first you talked about events where you got in touch with Valley entrepreneurs and investors, could you tell us something more?

Certainly, one of the typical activities that take place at the end of the working day are the networking meetings. Usually, they organise many “talks”, that is, events preceded by small refreshments where you are assisting in the intervention or a debate among the protagonists of Silicon Valley. The time before the talk is the most important part because people begin to meet and confront, exchange ideas, opinions and make important relationships in the workplace. The informality with which these meetings take place is truly extreme and none of the people I knew asked me anything about my qualifications, I was asked for information about my work experience.


Could you find a common element characterising the attractiveness of projects to Silicon Valley investors?

Obviously everything depends on the context, the type of background with which you are interacting, but, in general, the first thing that is observed is the so-called scalability (scalability means how easily you can expand your product and your business model). If a business project has no scalability in terms of unlimited users and pure replication of the launching country, it is difficult to take into account.

Could you talk about some meetings that impressed you?

Certainly, for sure meeting with Fred Cohen, one of the very first days of arrival. Fred is a 60-year-old man, one of the pioneers in the creation of computer viruses, specifically the one who invented the concept of computer virus and who created the first protection system from it, in short, invented the anti virus! Fred is a very famous person and is also known to be a great investor. Despite his great reputation, his tremendous financial standing had no problem with exchanging a few words with me without being pretentious or arrogant.

For now you have only listed positive aspects about your experience, can you tell us what did not convince you, and if you did notice some negative aspects?

Obviously, what has been said so far must keep in mind that the Silicon Valley’s economic miracle entails a number of important costs. First of all, the pressure on people (startup employees, executives, and the same founders) is difficult not to be overwhelmed by it. In any case it is a meter of a choice made of awareness. This is due to the fact that the context is extremely competitive, innovating continuously is an intrinsic part of the system not simply a last desperate resort of survival like in Italy.


After this experience, what about a Silicon Valley mindset in Italy? what can be done by younger generations like yours?

“Actually I have been thinking since my trip back to Italy and I have come to identify some key points that we, as younger generations, need to seriously consider in order to stimulate the Italian entrepreneurial system to grow in new effective ways related to the various social and economic complexity that are present today and will be more present in the future”.

During out conversation we have come to identify and elaborate these aspects summarising them in the following key points:

  1. Overcome a closed mind approach to change and other contexts;
  2. Overcome the ‘permanent job’ mindset;
  3. Overcome the fear of failure (no failure means no exploring and therefore not finding effective projects);
  4. Contribute to generate an informal vibrant access to investors’s network; in Silicon Valley investors have a very open and informal (yet totally pragmatic) mindset.

As Gianluca says: “Only if we manage to overcome these issues will we have the opportunity to create a better system for our businesses. But not only, I am convinced that a lot of successful guys which are our real wealth will not have to flee abroad in search of better conditions. If we try to open our minds by trying to think in a global perspective we will certainly get better results. We have also to take into account the progressive disappearance of the permanent job as a factor that can make us strive to think of different ways of finding employment. Lastly, but always connected to the issue of openness, it is important that organisations and networks of people who currently have large amounts of capital open to new initiatives by adopting a more informal and less elitist approach. Just by eliminating the fear of bankruptcy we might find a way to turn a project that has failed to take off in an experience that will help us in the next initiative!”

Gianluca’s generation has no doubt lots to offer in terms of skills and ideas needed to develop an economic system and their future; there are many barriers to do this, yet the overcoming of them starts from them mindset: awareness and focus that a mindset shift is needed for strong determined action. Experiences that like the one Gianluca had the opportunity to have can contribute concretely to that and we are sure that he seeks to actively discuss such topics in order to find some more people willing to develop such active views for the future.

Posted in: Innovation, Talent Development

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Change made possible by brain plasticity

Change or Die : the research, the article and the relevant book are over 10 years old, yet the topic is ever relevant: #change is no longer an option, is no-other-way one-way path.

Synaptic Development

We need to realise that we can be in control of it, rather than being victim of it, by leveraging on natural aspects as #brainplasticity and tools as #framing and #reframing #thinking and #communication

Posted in: Talent Development

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The leveraging power of the humanities becomes stronger in a technological world

An article published on latest July-August issue of the Harvard Business Review, titled “Liberal Arts in the Data Age” and authored by JM Olejarz points out how the humanities can have a driving role within the imagination needed to channel the potential of technologies; technologies that by now are growing at a faster and faster pace with increasing market impacts in a wider range of fields.

The famous quote by Albert Einstein “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand” creates a framework for this fine balance and synergy between imagination and technology.

Erik Kim recently wrote a blog article entitled “10 lessons Pablo Picasso can teach you” and quite interestingly he lists a series of actual tools that have been utilised by the artists to develop his masterpieces and that nowadays can represent actual ways to drive such technological developments.

In my opinion this represents a fundamental perspective that enlightens the increasing relevance of the human factor within a changing world strongly impacted by change fuelled by Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and other systemic approaches that appear to sideline people.

This entire topic is up for a necessary debate from many different perspectives.

Posted in: Innovation, Talent Development

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An interview with the experienced Motorsport Psychologist, Lorenzo Baldassarri (he has been working with several racing drives competing in series spanning from karting to F1) relevant to his innovative and effective drivers’ mental training program.

You have been working with Motorsport drivers racing in karts at the international level as well as in single-seaters series all the way up to F1. Given your studies and direct on-the-field experiences, what are the three factors that make the functional psychology approach so suitable for the field?

During the last few years I have been working with young kart drivers, learning about many situations in which a young person makes the first steps in Motorsport.

For example I remember fondly the work done with Charles Leclerc when he started to race in kart.

The work with professional drivers at Motorsport’ top level is different. Among some of them I have been working with, Markus Eriksson in F1, all of the drivers of the BMW DTM and Hayden Paddon for for concerns rallies. 

I would like to summarise the model that I utilise while preparing such athletes, it is called Functional Psychology and it is characterised by three elements: it is a modern psychological theory, very scientific and pragmatic, integrating psychological and physiological aspects, in other words Functional Psychology does not utilise simply words to intervene, better yet works at the cognitive, emotional, physiological and postural / muscular level; the second important factor is relevant to the practical tools that the driver can utilise when necessary during the race; the third factor is that it does not simply focus on motivational or behavioural issues: it interacts with personality deep functional factors that allow for lasting results making the driver autonomous and strong in the way he manages his/her resources. This is a key aspect of the program: making sure that the driver acquires a sense of aware and constructive self-reliance while managing delicate situations on track and off track.

Often key racing moments, as for example, race-starts bear excessive psychological pressure that influences negatively performance, have you dealt with it while working with drivers? what were the results? why?

I work with the driver for two specific situation: the key moments and the overall management of the race (considering that for a driver also the pre-race phase is also very important). 

Pressure is no doubt one of the factor that can influence negatively the performance of a driver. It is possible to find several aspects of it to deal specifically with: pressure perceived during pre-race (performance anxiety); during specific moments as for example the start; pressure that increases during the race because the driver is not able to manage the unfolding events handling at best his/her emotions and energy; in addition what I define pressure extra-race meaning the one that relates to relations with sponsors, ambition to always be at the very top, family, media, progress within the career ladder and so forth. 

Through my Action Procedural Protocol we proceed to build or strengthen the inner capabilities of a driver that are needed to manage at best such levels of pressure and stress being of inner or outer origin. The results reached through this program are excellent because they do not relate simply to a motivational or cognitive work, better yet we operate on the fundamental working of the overall mind-body system that are needed to react in an optimal way to pressure such as: calmness, consistency (that means to believe in ourselves and our skills), letting to (a concrete skill relevant to relaxing), the power of calmness (the underlining strength that makes us feel that we can overcome difficulties or endure through difficult situations) in addition to other aspects. In any case the drivers get used to utilise at best those underling capabilities that become aspects expressed automatically and tending to be eventually self-managed.

Do you use any specific tools while working with drivers? What is their function on the overall process?

Within the Procedural Protocol that I have created for the training of athletes several tools and machines are utilised, for example: measuring psychological and physiological variables, concentration improvement, tools to manage energy and body. 

Tools supporting the Functional Psychology approach

The real Innovation of the program consists in what are called: Functional Techniques. The Functional Techniques (that can be utilised correctly only by Functional Psychologists) are specific action relevant to the psyche and body through which we proceed to improve and boost the power of the above mentioned overall underling factors, in other words the aspects from which depend our behaviours, our potentialities and our limits.

In your experience does the approach work best with younger drivers or age is not a factor?

The Procedural Protocol has the relevant characteristic to fit any single driver depending on the very own unique characteristics, age being a key factor, and in relation to his/her specific needs. Specifically for what concerns young drivers I believe it is more correct to talk about ‘personal overall athletic growth’ rather then simply mental training. These young people are at the beginning of their career and what they can acquire from a physiological and physical point of view by working on themselves will create solid foundations that are going to last throughout their lives inside and outside the track. 

For what concerns drivers that are already within an adulthood we can talk about pure mental training. Those drivers already have a set mental structure developed through the years, and for that, for the majority of the cases the work that we perform concerns only the optimisation of physiological – physical management of resources. At the same time if an athlete has never gone thorough a professional mental training (obviously valid and scientific) will never be able to express of his/her potentialities even while reaching the top levels of a given sport!

Does this approach contribute to performance improvements that go also beyond the racing tracks?

I take advantage of this question to clarify a key issue: going through a mental training, even if solid and scientific does not guarantee winning on track. There are other factors at play: talent, vehicle, driving technique. At the same time I can state that a marked improvement of the mental program, even reaching consistent wins, has happened to drivers that we have worked with.

What is a key piece of advice that you would give to any driver that is determined to develop a long lasting, high performance, career?

Certainly to work on their abilities to manage energy. Too often we face activities, most of all if high level ones, thinking that our resources are endless, that we will be able to endure physical challenges, workloads, pressure and stress. In reality such abilities are not endless: mind and body (that always work together in great connection) are subject to wear and tear, efforts, we can get chronic stress illnesses, turning into medical consequences (it can even happen that we are no longer able to feel if we are tired or not). 

All of this if we want lasting careers, in which to obtain satisfactory results and wins, is a factor that must be taken into consideration!

Synergy Pathways Motorsport Academy partners with Lorenzo Baldassarri and his colleagues at Eljos to develop the career of racing drivers.

Posted in: Talent Development

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Time to ask the tough questions

#Technology is more then ever driving #organizations from an operational and strategic perspective, yet the real question to its developement relates to how it can finally #empower an higher level of #humanpotential expression in organizations.

There is no longer time to wait and actually technology is accelerating all of this too.

An anteresting article for the MIT Sloan Review:

The Question Every Executive Should Ask

Posted in: Talent Development

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