The greatest gifts in life are not material, do not need batteries, and are not the latest gadgets. The greatest gifts in life and this holiday season are family, lasting friendships, a passion filled career, cultural sensitivity, and endless curiosity.
Italians stereotypically are considered passionate, having close-knit families, and loving food and wine. Guilty as charged.
Several milestone events over the last thirty days have crystalized in my mind the three critical skills that will guarantee your future success.
Technology is leading to an explosion of ideas on which to build a solid business. Ninety percent of the world's data was generated in the last two years and this trend is accelerating. Every minute of the day, YouTube users upload 72 hours of new video, Facebook users share 2.5 million pieces of content, Twitter users Tweet 277,000 times, and email users send 204 million messages.
The information noise around us is endless and it will increase. Critical to progress is identifying the most important listening posts. In all careers, success starts and ends by closely listening to the customer.
"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way - in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only." - Charles Dickens
Over the last couple of weeks have been contemplating the subject of creating a lasting family legacy. When does one start thinking about creating a legacy? Is legacy simply the wealth possessions you pass on to your children? Why do leaders ponder their post existence legacy and even try to shape it? Should you aspire for a personal, family, or business legacy?
For the past four weeks, a special family moment keeps replaying in my mind. While spending time with my again parents in Italy, I made it a priority to visit my ailing Godfather Uncle Ralph.
Standing next to his hospital bed, we briefly reminisced about the old times, the great Italian card games, the many toasts to a healthy future, the family reunions in his favorite place in the mountains, and the mutual immigrant journeys on multiple continents.
At one point in the conversation, my frail Godfather reached for my hand. Abruptly words melted into silence. Holding hands, we stared into each other's eyes and I started stroking his arm. Our simple handshake was now speaking volumes. Silently, my Godfather was saying goodbye to a lifetime of enduring mutual experiences.
Sadness engulfed our family as less than two weeks later my Godfather passed away.
The somber news led to reflections on five key exemplary lessons of "Greatness" from the celebrated life of my Godfather, Raffaele D'Onofrio.
"A tagline is a slogan that succinctly, memorably, and descriptively sums up a company or product. The art of crafting one is quite complex....A well-constructed slogan can endure in the minds of consumers for years; some taglines have actually outlived their products."
From headlines to taglines, great messaging is composed of exiguous creative words that transcend time. Combining key words into memorable lines started in literature, and then transitioned to other media such as newspapers, radio, movies, and television. The advertising industry turned taglines into a business.
Can you name the company represented by these advertising taglines?
"Too many people think they know how to lead, not fully understanding what that really means. Foundational elements of great leadership include willingness to work with others, readiness to cooperate, achieving common success goals, and building strong teams. Poor leaders want the position for the power. Exceptional leadership derives from confidence in yourself, knowing who you are, building on your strengths, and leveraging team members to mitigate your weaknesses. Leadership is a team sport." -- Michael D'Onofrio
... And Why Three Others Really Matter for a Prosperous New Year
At the start of the New Year, two amazingly confluent appreciable elements came together:In the German speaking part of Switzerland, 10 Rules of "How to Work Better" painted on a wall in English. A University that provided the world 12 Nobel Prize laureates.
For the past 12 months, on my regular commute to Neuhausen Am Rheinfall I've struggled from the train to read the "How to Work Better" rules painted on a grey building north of Zurich. Most days could only discern the top 3.
The first weekend of November happened to be in my Italian hometown during the annual tradition of memorializing fallen soldiers and civilians from past wars. November 4th, which is now celebrated on the first Sunday of the month, has dual significance for the Italians. It is known as the Holiday of National Unity and also the day to recognize the Armed Forces. Historically, this date celebrates the Italian victory over the Austria-Hungary Empire in 1918, unifying and ending World War I for the country.
Early that Sunday morning, the sound of the marching "Bersaglieri" military band piqued my interest. On this day did not expect to become a witness of emotional traditions celebrating the past which very quickly translated into new lessons for the future.
"Emotion is contagious" (1) is a quote from the book "The Tipping Point" by Malcolm Gladwell. On the book cover, the author added the subtitle "How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference". The premise of the book is that social epidemics have a tipping point, a moment where they go from negligible unseen trends to the next intense wave of popularity.
As one of my favorite books, the concept of a "tipping point" has been a key driver of my life, both personally and professionally. In business, truly lasting success is built on incremental relationship improvements that over time increase the level of contagious emotion. At its most basic element, business is about people relationships.
"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition." - Steve Jobs
According to a just published study by the Center for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics, human happiness peaks at age 23, hits its low point at