After 3 years presenting keynotes and content marketing sessions at int’l conferences around the world – Cleveland, NYC, London, Barcelona, Berlin, etc. – I have finally been invited to present in Milan, Italy. Actually, I haven’t really been invited. I’ve discovered about the conference on the internet. I wrote 2 lines to the organisers. They answered, immediately (hat tip to SMXL’s organisation!). And now I am in.
It’ll be the first time for me attending a conference in Italy as speaker. Which is ironic. I am Italian. I speak the language. Actually, it’s my mother language. Not sure if it’s the lack of events or interest for content marketing; or maybe just the lack of interest of the Italians for other Italians. Italy wants speakers from the other side of the ocean. Italy in general loves all non Italian things.
Okay. I am now part of the speaker line-up and this makes me so happy. It’s great to be back to my town. Let’s work on a great presentation, now. And I hope to meet many many old friends.
July. That was the last time I was in Barcelona. I was on vacation with Asia & Maya. First time for them; definitely not the first for me. I can barely remember how many times I have been in town: so many times that I can formally nominate Barcelona my third home-town, after Milan and London. I speak the language, I am familiar with the places, I simply feel at home.
Next week I am supposed to be in Barcelona, one more time. I will chair a conference and I have some personal business to manage. I truly hope that everything will be resolved peacefully, that the vote will take place smoothly and that Spain will give local population the right to choose their destiny.
I met all of them years ago, when I started my MBA class, in Milan. It was the end of 2003.
One year later Confraternita del Geco (Brotherhood of the Gecko, also called Confra) was created by 8 brave MBA students. One (not so brave) left – was forced to leave? – a couple of years later. The 7 left established a solid friendship. A ‘statute’ was created. It was decided to celebrate the Brotherhood with a dinner, every third Wednesday of the month (Gecocena, the Gecko-dinner), each time in a different osteria in Milan, organised by a different member of the brotherhood – il Grangeco. A couple of them opened the first sushi factory in Italy. Then, a WhatsApp group was created – Confra members definitely mastered the latest technologies (including the fax). One of the members started traveling around the globe with the goal of putting his feet on every single country on the planet (including North Korea and Mongolia), another guy became passionate about Northern European beers, another one about global conferences and stages.
Confra members used to travel together – Spain, London, Amsterdam. In 2013 Confra celebrated in London 10 years of friendship. Then I moved to the UK and other members moved to more exotic places (Monza, Florence). The few remaining in Milan got silent for long long time.
17 years later, Confraternita is still alive – well, not properly kicking, a bit sick, but still alive. We barely meet each other; the WhatsApp group is still in use – the only shared activity last.
So, is this the end? Is it really the end of the heroic Confra? No, it’s not. I can still feel the spirit of Confra hovering over my head. Because Confra never dies, it’s part of life, it’s part of you, as Hooverphonics are used to sing (was it Anger instead?).
In Milan today. Watching some TV with A and M. X-Factor Italia. Super-boring. Never seen one of of the judges but his face is somehow familiar. The TV show is over. Time to go.
Then I recall the last days of the summer. And it’s not really because I am bit nostalgic (I am). But I keep thinking at the face of that guy in TV.
Summer. Early morning, 2AM. In Sicily with A. We are drinking a pint of Guinness in a typical Sicilish (Sicilian-Irish) pub, when we get invited by a friend who is partying in the same town with an Italian rock group, the Afterhours. Never heard about these gentlemen, but we decide to go. We enter the VIP area – why rock groups always get reserved a VIP area? – and we VIP drink and VIP eat some food. One hour later, we say good bye and we hit the road. Not so much conversation in place with the rock folks.
The singer. Finally, I realise that the judge and one of the guys at the VIP bar, specifically the one that was told being the leader of the Afterhours, are the same person.
It took so many hours to recognise the leader of the Afterhours.