23 years later, I return as a Wolverine figure ready to teach young X-Men and X-Women

MIP alumni all have something in common that sets them apart from others. A unique gene that drives them to keep testing themselves.

I recognised this gene in the eyes of the Master IM4 class as they sat at their desks on my arrival. I was on that side of the lecture hall 23 years ago and so it was akin to looking in a mirror, recognising your own gaze.


The call

My old Marketing Professor on the 13th MIP course, Alberto Cellini – then a young assistant – called me on my mobile phone.

It was he who made me fall in love with Marketing and Sales at a time when I was a young supply chain engineer at Barilla.

Since then he has been a mentor, a guru, but most of all a true friend. He’s always there when he is needed. His biggest strengths are his reliability, his knack of always showing people and organisations the right path to follow and his encyclopaedic knowledge of the greats of sport and culture. He is a man of many memorable quotes and anecdotes, drawing parallels between business and life in general.

“Giorgio, I’ve seen that you’ve been able to learn new skills even at 50 years of age and begin selling using LinkedIn. Would you like to come and teach my international marketing class?” I had been pestering him for such an opportunity for some years.

Whenever Alberto calls, I never ever let him finish. “Yes!” is always the answer.

It was thanks to him that I did my project work in marketing at MIP, alongside my friend and future business partner Andrea Berzolla. We later formed a consultancy firm together. It wasn’t a large company, but we took a risk alongside a senior partner, who set up a spin-off with us. As well as Alberto, Gianni Limetti taught us everything we know about marketing and sales. Alberto had been one of Limetti’s students too, once. We own a great deal to him and I often hear myself saying: “The great Gianni is looking down on us from up there.”

When the dark period of my career arrived (and arrive it always does), it was Alberto who threw me a life jacket and helped me kick on towards new challenges.

Thank you Alberto! MIP alumni don’t know how to live without a challenge. Challenges put their courage to the test, which in turn helps them to face up to their fears.


In the beginning

It was in 1990 that this newly employed Barilla engineer met Antonio Di Corato, a MIP alumnus of the tenth course. We instantly became friends, brothers, room-mates. I couldn’t put my finger on exactly what it was, but boy did he have that special gene.

My path had already crossed with MIP a few years previously, when I chose Antonio Roversi, founder of the Master’s programme, as my university mentor.

I later met Paolo Gasparini and Giovanni Gemmani, from the 11th course. There was something different about them too – I found it magnetic. The following year, I tutored two interns from the 12th course.

And so it was that – almost for fun – I decided to apply for the 13th MIP course in 1992/93.

I was successful!

So what was I going to do next?


The X Gene

I soon discovered that I had that special gene too. The way I never felt I was where I should be, the way I always wanted to strive to be better.

I can still remember the reaction of my boss at Barilla, who couldn’t believe his ears. Here was a precocious young engineer, hired from thousands, who was firing himself to go back to school.

But what a school! It changed my life. Back then, I could never have predicted the surprises it would bring me.

The 13th MIP course get together every year.

Thirty of us thus found ourselves in a temporary MIP site, in a building lent by Pirelli, situated near the Greco train station – far away from… everything. The thirty of us, our tutor Paola Picco and a secretary, Cristina, who I had the pleasure of seeing again when I returned recently. Giorgio, what are you doing here?

It was as if time had stood still.

We had a memorable year together, as if reliving our adolescence. We worked hard, studied hard, but there was ample time for laughter and forging new friendships.

As it happens, the Greco train station – which seemed so alien when I had to commute from Cremona – became incredibly handy when I got married during the summer break. The one-hour journey to and from Bergamo gave me invaluable time to study.

I think we’re the only class that continues to meet up in this way. Each year, we nominate a class president at the gala dinner on Saturday via an unfailingly entertaining two-round ballot. The nominated president keeps a register of all signatures and is responsible for organising the following year’s event. There are now more wives and children than there are actual MIP alumni – such is the passing of time.


A career path of many curves.

When I enrolled at MIP, my objective was to launch a sales career in Italian manufacturing companies.

In actual fact, the road turned out to be much longer and more surprising. I first became a consultant, then an entrepreneur, then a manager and now a temporary manager.

My desk-mate from the first day of the course, Andrea Berzolla, became a consultancy colleague and later a business partner in our start-up company DFC Direfarestampare, the first chain of franchise printing centres. He was then my colleague at MBE Mail Boxes Etc, after the acquisition.

Having said that, my greatest project has always been the family I have created: my wife Rossana and my three children Tancredi, Davide and Vittorio. Our home is in Cremona, where I was born and where I have always commuted from, around Italy and the rest of the world.

I have now accepted the challenge of being a leader in a start-up created by an industrial group that has developed technology employing unique materials and nanotechnology. DG Mosaic, Made in Italy Glass Skin for luxury interior design. I was fascinated by the thought of taking Italy’s creative, design and technological excellence to the world.

Mine has been a career characterised by that X Gene, built around radical changes and courageous decisions.


Back in the classroom for the IM4 Master’s: International Master’s in Multichannel Marketing Management

A couple of years ago, I accepted an invitation to take part in several drinks receptions MIP was organising around a series of specific topics. It was a chance to make new friends and become reacquainted with old professors, Roberto Verganti and Andrea Sianesi in particular. The two are now among the key figures at the business school: they welcomed me with a smile and I thank them for the gift they gave me.

Andrea accompanied me to China with a group of executive students. This is indicative of the domino effect the school is capable of creating, triggering the pool of energy inside every one of us.

And so I returned to the classroom as an Experienced Lecturer, or so Benedetta Badino – the class tutor – told me. It was all the more exciting given that she was my tutor once too!

The lecture was given in English to French, Mexican, German, Russian, Turkish and Chinese students, plus one Italian.

I speak English with a posh accent, having learned it from my English aunt when I was a lad. I have some holes in my vocabulary, but I know the subject well.

Alberto persuaded me to get my ideas down in the form of a presentation. He calls it his “common thread”. I’ve lost count of the times he has helped nudge me in the right direction.

I created a lovely presentation using original content drawn from experience and the necessities dictated by a lack of resources.

A real salesperson cannot fail to grasp the importance of the disruptive digital revolution and incredible new sales opportunities in Italy and – above all – around the world.

LinkedIn has changed the rules of sales and offers wonderful opportunities to people searching for new paths to follow.


Selling through LinkedIn

I’ve always liked giving training and inspiring people with my presentations.

Training is an important part of any sales career – it helps to motivate salespeople and develop selling techniques.

Let me give you a summary of the content. The idea is simple. A sale is like a fish and LinkedIn opens the door to a series of techniques and activities which enable you to catch many more fish than any other sales platform.

Everything rests on the fact that sales processes are changing at a pace ten times quicker than in the pre-internet era.

That’s why the IM4 Master’s guarantees significant added value.

The idea I invented is called the Reverse Sales Method – and I assure you that it works. As well as being extremely effective, this sales technique is considerably more cost effective than traditional methods.

Six steps to change the sales process with LinkedIn Sales Navigator

  1. To have some interesting things to say
  2. Daily practice with LinkedIn Sales Navigator
  3. To learn how create hooks
  4. Be creative and imagine your own call to action
  5. Build up your community
  6. Attract your prospects that fall in love with the benefit you can offer them


Grand finale

The school has welcomed me back with open arms and my return has in turn opened new doors.

In less than a month, I have become an Experienced Lecturer and Tutor for final project work.

The grand finale was being nominated to appear on the Register of Mentors in MIP’s Sales and Marketing department. It means I will be on hand to help people studying on executive courses and explain to them what it means to carry the X Gene.

I will be proud to help this school, explaining my many mistakes and occasional successes. MIP was the first of many turning points in my professional and personal life.

Thank you, now and forever, to everyone at MIP.


Giorgio Fiammenghi