The 3 Cs Rule – Successful Interactions

As announced last week, this weekend I took part in Ab Urbe Condita, a storytelling performance in Parco dell’Appia Antica, Rome.

As my colleagues and I were asked many questions both from the audience and the local news, I got the chance to think about something I recently learned about communication: The 3 Cs Rule. 

Sometimes you find yourself in the condition to speak or write about your project, your story or just you as a professional in order to convince somebody about the value of what your are talking about. You may write a cover letter for an application, pitch a project or meet someone who might be an investor in your carrier. How to communicate at your best? How to “sell” what you want?

Here is where The 3 Cs Rule steps in. The three Cs represents three key aspects that are to keep in mind in these situations.

  1. CounterpartAlways remember that what you are referring to is a specific reality. Don’t write identical cover letters, don’t go to interviews without doing some research on who your counterpart is, what they have done and what they want to do. Listen to them, adapt to them as they were your audience. You will be appreciated for that.
  2. ContextInvestigating your counterpart is important, so it is doing research on the context where your interaction will take place. Culturally, socially, economically. If you speak to them referring to specific elements to which they could relate, you’ll create a connection, a hook.  Hanging on the hook you’ll provide them will help them in understanding what you are saying and to get interested.
  3. ContentOf course, you can’t go there and just talk about nothing. You are there to show how cool you and your project are? Show them some stuff! Bring the things you have done in the past, bring data! Show arguments and charts, give them anything they can relate to, that can prove that what you are telling them is not only the truth, but the only option they can consider!

Never go unprepared!

But, most of all, go there full of enthusiasm for whatever project, job or story you are going to talk about! Don’t forget to pass on them the same sparkle you felt when you first got excited about the project!

They’d surely fall for you!

 

 

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Performing Storytelling

In media and business “storytelling” is a more and more known word used to promote a form of communication suitable to the dream-oriented society we live in. It refers to a communication strategy whose strengths lie on our perpetual need for stories.

“Storytelling”, though, is originally a word to identify a performing art. More precisely, the Storytelling Revival is a cultural movement started in the U.S in the late ’60 – with the aime of  studying, exploring and proposing the art of telling stories for a contemorary audience,   as an innovative yet archetypical way of entertainment. The pioneers of the storytelling movement felt that a strong action was needed to save the oral tradition from extinction under the threat of the “television monster”. In the following decades the Storytelling art  has been codified and practiced in many different variations throughout the world and now counts countless Festivals, clubs theatres and lovers all over the globe.

Storytelling is the art of comunicating through words, gestures, the modulation of voice and body language the images of a story to a specific audience. Storytelling is the interactive art of using words and actions to reveal the elements and images of a story while encouraging the listener’s imagination.” (National Storytelling Network USA Federation for European Storytelling)

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In Italy storytelling is performed and studied by a small amount of performers, most of whom are related to Raccontamiunastoria, the first storytelling company in the country, created by storyteller Paola Balbi – who came across the Storytelling Movement and trained in England – and co-directed by Davide Bardi.

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For a decade Raccontamiunastoria perpetrated the art of oral narration all around the globe telling oral stories mainly linked with the Italian tradition, from the Bible to Decameron, from legends to family anecdotes.

I have the privilege of being part of this wonderful, challenging and mind blowing reality. Thanks to Raccontamiunastoria I got the chance to approach narration from a different point of view, yet still working with creating images and giving them to an audience. I face insecurities related to putting myself in the hand of my listeners and viewers and I discovered more about myself in these last months than I have done in all my life. I can’t really thank Paola, Davide and Raccontamiunastoria enough for that.

Since on Saturday the 23rd and Sunday the 24th I will take part for the first time into an official Raccontamiunastoria performance, I wanted to share my happiness with you and invite all of those who may find themselves in Rome to attend. In the beautiful setting of Ancient Appia natural reserve, Ab Urbe Condita and the legends of the seven kings of Rome will be told during a suggestive stroll in the woods.

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There is not much more to say, since performative storytelling is an art that can be fully appreciated only when experienced live. It’s like a spell, it can be cast only on people who take part to it. So, I really hope to see you there.

A Tea with… Eric!

As mentioned last week, today’s journal will be an interview with Eric, a young artist whose performance could be seen some days ago on Italia’s Got Talent. We met this afternoon and, while sipping a nice cup of tea together, I asked him some questions about his choices in life and career. What I got was a story of a young man who built his own artistic brand based on this key elements: dreams, music and homemade.

Eric was born as Fabrizio Florio in Calabria, a southern region of Italy. As his father was a musician and his mother used to sing, Eric grew up loving music. And Disney films. Even if he is close to his first quarter of century, Eric is not ashamed of saying that Disney represents life itself for him, because of the many shades that the stories and messages from the popular brand are capable to picture.

Completed his studies in Media while traveling across the world, Fabrizio moved to Rome to study performing arts. The tragic loss of his mother gave him the needed epiphany on which he started to built his artistic career. “Back then I realized that from that moment on I was going to do only what I wanted. I am going to live a fulfilling life, for both me and my mum” he says.

So he found himself a nome d’art  that could embody his different backgrounds and called himself Eric: a Disney character in love with music and who travels the world by sea. With this name and his own version of Part of your world from The Little Mermaid, Eric collected four “yes” at his auditions for Italia’s Got Talent, and his popularity across the country seems destined only to increase.

During our tea-chat, Eric and I talked about his branding choice. His logline is “Dreams homemade” because he recognized the importance to bring contents even if lacking with technical capabilities. He is aiming to create a true connection with his audience and for this goal he put himself completely on board, and he did it firstly by sharing his story with them.

Eric is not nor Christina Aguilera (whose voice speaks for itself) nor Michael Bay, and he did a great job at understanding what were the main elements he could stress to get to people.

  • Content: He provided a good performance, without which he would have looked like a fraud, and his story alone would not have been enough.
  • Story: He showed his inner fears and told his personal story. This was appreciated by the audience, who liked that he took this risk. We are in the dream society, remember?
  • Connection: He was able to find a song and a character that reflected his story, like it did for many members of the audience. They felt a connection with him.

I firmly believe that nowadays successful brands need to rely on these elements.

Eric is still at the beginning of his journey since he doesn’t have a strategy or enough confidence in his performances, but I want to believe that we all can follow his path and start making our homemade dreams come true.

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What’s up, Doc? – First 2016 Journal

As three months passed since 2016 started, I think we may say without consequences that a trimester went by. So I thought about taking the chance to recap a bit about what happened and what is going to happen to me – and consequently to this site – in the close future.

I decided that, every week, my articles will come together with a video in Italian about the same subject, in order to keep my Youtube channel active and to help those Italian readers who might find difficulties in reading my written English. Here is the first example.

Since January I have been working with schools. I plan, organize and host film laboratories for students from four to fourteen years old. I am planning to do even more courses, because I found out that I really like teaching, especially young people, who are an  unlimited source of creative and human stimulation. Consequently, sometimes my articles will be centered around teaching creative subjects.

I am currently working on several personal projects that involve writing. I am working on web-series, sketches, a stage play and, ultimately, a feature film. Those projects will take long before being decent to show, but working on them will surely give me plenty of subjects to talk about.

Among these writing projects there are some collaborations. First to mention is my partnership with famous Italian youtuber La Vergine D’Orecchie, with whom I just started a series of satirical skit called Lobby Gay, to criticize some Italian political measures against civil rights. Here you may find the first episode.

I will also do some projects with singer/writer Fabrizio “Eric” Florio, who recently made his first appearance on Italian television singing his rendition of Part of your world from Disney’s The Little Mermaid on Italia’s Got Talent. Next week my article will be an interview with him about his self branding decisions and difficulties.

So, thank you for following, stay tuned and enjoy Spring!

Researching: pain and bliss

There are three types of people in the world. Those who jump into the water without learning how to swim and that try to figure it out once drowning. Those that don’t put a finger inside the pool until they have read the magnum opera about swimming. And those that find their way in the middle.

While in real life matters we tend to pursue the third way, when it comes to researching for a creative project we might find ourself indulging more in the first or second possibility. Or we don’t start until we are sure to know everything on the subject – and that sounds like an excuse not to start, doesn’t it? – or we write without doing any kind of research.

Your idea is to write a medical series? There is no need to become a doctor but sure, if you write and you have no notion on the concept, this will surely show at some point. The faith your audience have in you will fade and nobody  would watch your series again.

So, how to balance researching and creative work?

There are many ways, it depends on the person. Famous screenwriter Steven de Souza, for example, doesn’t like research to interfere with his creative flow, so he first writes an emotionally driven draft, and then does the research it needs. Michael Schiffer likes to live and breath what is writing about, so he not only buys DVDs and books on what he is writing, but also tries to travel to the locations he wants to describe and to stay with the people that inspire his characters.

Of course, everyone will have their own method. But, since doing a great project might take a while, I think that is important for you to do your research in a way that it enforces your creativity.

One of the best examples I could think of is my best friend writing her first novel. As she started what was going to be the first volume of a trilogy, my friend didn’t know she would have gone that far. Everything had started from a glimpse, a sparkle of an idea she had when she discovered the historical figure of who was going to be her main character. She had started working on the main storyline and the characters but, because she was writing a period novel, she soon found herself in need of learning more about historical and geographical settings. So she started a two way journey. On one hand she was structuring characters and drama, on the other she was researching historical events, cultural details and other elements she would have needed for her story to be credible for her audience.

One might think this work to be very hard and boring. Maybe, but more than once I saw my friend enthusiastic because the knowledge she gained on the subject she was writing gave her not only the ability to solve problems that might have sorted in the continuity, but also to find new ideas for her drama.

If you think about it, it’s normal for us to create in relations of what is close to us. Unless you are some sort of genius, your creativity will in some way be related to what you live and experience everyday. Not to mention all the films, books and art you have encountered in your life. So, the more you would try to immerge yourself in the world, characters and story of your project, the more you and your creativity would be influenced but them.

Why don’t you give it a try? Just remember not to go to far. If you are writing a story about a psycho killer and you go berserk, I don’t want police to check on me for suggesting you to do that. 😉

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(This image is property of Tracy J. Butler – check her awesome comic)

What’s to do with envy and regret?

 

On Monday night I decided to attend to a book presentation where many great screenwriters were going to partecipate. I expected to go there, listen to some brilliant words and then get home for dinner. What happened, instead, was a great chance for me to meet both new contacts and to confront with other two characteristic elements of mine: envy and regret.

These two are feelings connected to insecurity and low self-esteem. You are more prone to feel them if you are in a moment of your life where you feel you don’t have accomplished so much. You tend to confront with others and with your past, you are envious and wish you had done things differently.

I felt envious because I met people who managed to accomplish what I am still struggling to obtain. And I felt regret, because I thought (like it always happens when I feel envious) that if I had done things differently, that if I had chosen another path some years ago, maybe today I would be where these people that I admire are.

Luckily for me, I am not a person who indulges in these kind of emotions anymore. Being aware of who I am, of what kind of path led me – both psychologically and physically – where I am now, helped me overcome envy and regret and focus on what I can do to make things be what I want them to be. Now and given what are my true resources, not what I wish them to be.

Yes, I haven’t gone to a full time screenwriting school, and it was because it took me all my 26 years to fully understand and accept what I wanted to be. And there is nothing wrong with that. Knowing exactly what you want to do with your life at 19 years old is something society want you to do every time, but people are different, we get things differently. Yes, I am not a screenwriter nor a story editor nor a storyteller yet, but there is no one out there who could say that I don’t try my best to become one every single day of my life.

The best way to overcome envy and regret is to focus on what you want to do and to act. Don’t care about what others did, think about what you could do, now! 

So, I took the courage and spoke to a couple of screenwriters there. They have been both kind and helpful and, even if they reminded me of how hard this choice of life is, I felt encouraged. One of them actually offered to read and value some of my works, I couldn’t be more happy.

Besides, this encounter was also an occasion for me to meet again with some of my former colleagues from LUISS Business School and to start talking about some collaborations we could make.

So, in the end, being envious and regretful was totally pointless, don’t you think?

Ah, there is a final annotation to this story. Today, in a store, I met a former university colleague of mine, whose work I had always admired. We chatted a bit, since we hadn’t seen each other for years. As he spoke, he kept telling my sweetheart how much he used to admire me because of my determination.

You see? No matter how low you might value yourself, somewhere there is at least one person who can see things in you that you’re not even able to consider.

 

 

How much is right to be paid?

One of the first issues I had to face when I started to work independently in the freelancing market was: how much do I value? How much is right to ask in exchange of my creative and professional services? As I talked to those friends of mine who similarly live on the income they get from their newborn self-employed jobs, I realized that they are asking themselves the same questions I do.

If you are a creative worker it will be very hard to put a price tag onto your works, especially if you care very much about them (thus valuing them excessively) or if you are still too insecure about the quality (not to valuing them enough).

But to give yourself the right value in the market is important not only for you as a professional but to the whole system as well. Since the creative industry is now the most fluid and changeable, not to say the least structured, it is important to remember our partners and clients that what we do is a job no different from all the others.

Just because you work with creativity, it doesn’t mean you don’t work at all. Probably, many people out there are not capable to look behind the complete work or service you give them. They don’t see the time, struggle and study it required. If they think creativity is a sparkle, that your job is something everyone could do, is your duty to help them change their mind.

First, by showing them the process that led you to a level of quality no amateur could ever have. And second, by giving your services a price. Like any other professionals would do.

Now, the question is: “yes, but how”?

Here, now is the right time to compare with others. Check the market, figure out how much your “colleagues” out there would be paid for their works. But don’t stop there. Consider you qualifications, the type of service you offer. Do you help elementary school kids do their home work or do you help teenagers preparing for their high-school diploma? Do you make a pencil art work or a painting? Do you write a sketch or a film? The price, of course, changes.

And, ultimately, it would change according on who your client is. This is new, isn’t it?

This suggestion was given me by my wise coach, Sonja. Again she was able to see it right. I know that in usual economy the price of a piece of bread is the same, bought by a prince or by an accountant. But if you are starting today your self-employed job, wanting creativity to be the core of your work, I don’t think that you would go very far if you think you should ask the same price to every client.

Could sound in contrast to what I wrote earlier, but trust me it is not. In this kind of industry I firmly believe that, as is important to be able to provide quality and efficacy, is also important to keep in mind that what you are providing is not a physical object, yet an experience, a lesson, a strategy. While bread would be bread for everyone to eat, your products would inevitably be influence by who your audience and clients are.

You work with them, create for them, you know who they are and what they want. Consequently you would know how much they can give you. As Sonja doesn’t ask me to pay as much she would ask a CEO of a big company, so I ask accordingly, yes, to how much I value my work, but also to how much my client can give me.

This way we create a relationship, based on quality, experience, knowledge and trust, a relationship that can progress in the future.

As soon as I get paid I’ll let you know if it works. 😉

 

You shall not rest on your laurels

(Not that I have any laurel to rest onto, but… )

Since I started my non-retributed freelancing experiences in the entertainment world, there isn’t a day where I don’t ask myself: “what should I do more?”.

Every morning I wake up with a perennial state of excitement and frustration for the many things I don’t know but want to know, the many areas of the market that are strangers to me and the many strategies I could try to become what I want to become. While I work on my several projects my heart races and the concentration lacks. I go to sleep feeling unsatisfied, like I wasn’t able to fully comprehend all the possibilities I could pursue to fulfill my dream.

Worst of all is comparing with others. There is always someone who did better than me, someone who got the system while I am still trying to learn how to tide my shoes. My stomach hurts with jealousy and insecurity flows.

I am writing this because I want to put down the truth: all of this shit is a waste of time.

Looking at the others’ work is useful, yes, but only if you could find inspiration for what you want and can do. It’s ok to compare to others only if you know who are you. There is no point in comparing to someone just for the sake of jealousy and self-indulgence. It’s by observing those that could be your mentors that you would find what roads could be suitable for what you want and those that may be not. You are a different person from the those that succeeded, even just because now they are there and you are still here. Time has passed and things are changed.

Speaking of time, I think is really there that you should look for reference.

Have you ever tried to watch, read or take a look at something you’ve done in the past and think: “Ugh, did I really do that? Man, if I am improved!”?

Here and there I go take a look at shorts I did during university or things I wrote in the past. Sometimes I find there has been a great improvement, sometimes I don’t. On both occasions there is the change to think about it. Why did I improve? Why did I not? Did I learn some new techniques? Has my languages or contents changed?

Maybe if you haven’t changed a bit, nor in content nor in technique, is because you rested too much on your laurels, because at some point in your life you felt it was safer than trying new things. But unfortunately, that attitude is not going to help you moving forward and, eventually, you’d be obsolete.

Sounds bad, maybe, but I think is the best you could do to take a look from the outside of what you have achieved and how, so to plan better your next step into your path.

I can’t guarantee it will work, but at least some of us will get some sleep.