Carmine Gallo at Leweb Paris 2013

I recently had the opportunity to spend a few days in Paris with my friend Carmine Gallo. Carmine is a best-selling author, former reporter and anchor for CNN and CBS. He has sat down with many of the most dynamic and respected business leaders of our time.

Carmine was on stage at Leweb with a magnificent presentation about communication techniques. His presentation was so amazing that he followed it up with an in-depth workshop. Don’t miss the next two videos directly from Paris. Enjoy!

kompany Startup Hangout – join the conversation

A few months ago I took a new challenge and with a group of trusted friends I decided to start a new company called kompany.

We incorporated the company on February the 29th 2012 (how many companies you know were incorporated on a leap day?) and in a few months we went through two rounds of funding. The first round was provided by the founding team and the second round came from a private angel investor.

I’m experiencing something that never happened to me before and some days are so busy that I totally loose the sense of time. The speed of our company is sometimes unbelievable.

In the last few years I had the opportunity to work with startups, large companies, consulting many kind of different businesses, but this time, for the first time, I’m contributing to build something from scratch that is direct expression of my experience and contribution.

Our product will be out soon and if in the first months of kompany’s life I was following the product development, I’m now slowly moving into my bread and butter: corporate communication, marketing intelligence and digital strategy.

Opening up our company

Last week I was designing our online presence and I’m slowly building up our communication strategy. I wanted to find a way to put together our willing to unleash the stories within our companies and the curiosity coming from outside: a lot of people were asking me, in the last few months, what was I exactly doing.

For this reason I proposed to my Co-CEOs to introduce Google+ Hangouts in our kompany life. We started yesterday with a public hangout inviting a few friends and sharing with them a hour of our time. It was so great!

We had the opportunity to touch base with a few interested and interesting people, aswering questions and having some good laugh. Everything was relaxed and natural. I have to say that I was extremely impressed by the quality of the G+ Hangout platform. Fabrizio, one of the attendant, was commuting during the hangout and we had him constantly connected with us from his iPhone, with no interruptions from underground in Rome at first, then from the streets of the Italian capital.

The feedback we got was amazing. Positive comments and super interesting questions from our guests. Thumbs up!

Let’s hangout then!

After this positive experience we decided to take this opportunity to the next level. We are going to have regular hangouts every second week. We are going to get familiar with this tool and we are going to use it for a good purpose: open up our experience and give some insights on how we conduct our business. Our methodologies, our management techniques, our hiring policies, all the things that can help our clients to understand us better, our sharehoder to have a clearer picture of the team, other startups to have a place to discuss about core topics.

The party is on!

You can read all the blogposts you want about the best 5 tips on how to open a startup and deliver a MVP, but most of the time those resources can’t answer specific questions.

We’ll do our best to share our experience, come by and take a seat, have a look and if you like, join the conversation. The next hangout is scheduled on July the 30th 2012 at 6.00pm.

Here the link to join us

Stay tuned, more news to come!

Social Media recap

It’s time for a change, so I don’t exclude that very soon this blog will change its template to make it more readable and complete.

In the meanwhile let me recap my online presence.


Some people say that blogs are dead. This blog is not, get over it.


My favorite channel to express my thoughts and share links. I still cannot clearly explain why so many people are following me, but that’s their problem, not mine.


It’s my phototwitter. I just love it. Just follow me there and you’ll make me happy. But also take pictures yourself otherwise it’s not so much fun.


I like it very much but it’s not mature yet. The noise level is very low but only because there are no APIs available for third party apps. Then the circle system is pretty powerful to filter out unwanted spammers.


My professional hub, and one of the few places where I’m very strict in terms of connections. If you want to connect with me on LinkedIn, please introduce yourself, otherwise I will decline the request. If you just read my blog and you wanna connect, no problem, but take 2 minutes to explain me why. That’s it.


Just friend me, no problem. I’m still struggling if I should have a fan page for my readers and strict my profile just to close friends like many other did, but I’m not too sure it fits to me. Maybe you have a better solution, just drop down a comment.


I don’t have any direct influence on my klout score and I don’t have any idea why it’s so high. Stop asking me about it. Period.


This is the photoblog I share with Letizia. We both post pictures taken during our travels. Just stuff that we like straight from our Flickr accounts.


M for Murder is a phototumblr I share with Teymur (someone else will join us soon). The idea is to have a place for our street photography, following our basic rules:

  1. We only shoot prime lenses
  2. We respect our subjects
  3. we don’t just shoot for the sake of shooting, we are looking for a meaning, a story


All my likes on flickr, youtube,, instagram, etc. are collected on my favblog. Just have a look at it and let me know, but remember that is just an archive, no more than that.


All of my pictures are collected there. And when I say all, I mean all. At the moment there are more than 8.130 pictures. I try to keep them organized but sometimes are just a mess.


It’s a relic from the past. Many of my italian friends are very active there and it’s a nice spot to get some small talks. But definitely nothing relevant happens there anymore.

Symbolic Violence and Social Media

I work at 123people and my job is to integrate social media into a corporate environment.

A few weeks ago, I got a special request from a customer and that got me seriously thinking how social dynamics affect the business of companies.

A strange request

A customer was asking us to violate one of the rules of our customer support, a very basic one, just because he had “200K followers on twitter”. Of course we refused to satisfy the request because we follow very strict rules. However, I asked myself why would someone do something like that.

We all like to show off our follower base on our twitter profile and we also like to publish the number of reader of our feed. We also collect badges on foursquare and brag to our friends when we get a very difficult one, like the Super Swarm Badge or the Super Duper Swarm Badge.

But would you ever ask a restaurant to skip the line because you have a popular blog? Some people expect that and i wanted to understand why. What moves people to expect that being a social media star can make them to skip the line?

Pierre Bourdieu’s theory

An anthropologist friend of mine suggested that I research the studies of Pierre Bourdieu, a French sociologist, who came up, in the 70s, with a very fascinating theory about people and society.

Four kind of capital

He extended Marxist theory about capital, whereby people’s capital is split into four kinds: Economic, Social, Cultural and Symbolic.

  • Economic Capital is very easy to explain: money, time and production tools.
  • Social Capital is the number of people we know; our social circle.
  • Cultural Capital is what we know; our education and culture.
  • Symbolic Capital is the set of symbols recognized and legitimated by other people: job titles, study degrees, uniforms.

Capital generation

An interesting fact is that we can use one kind of capital to generate another kind: we can spend money to obtain education, we can use the people we know to find a job, we can apply a specific knowledge to meet new people.

But even more interesting is the fact that people tend to generate symbolic capital as quickly as possible. As such, we buy an expensive car or an iPhone: status symbol. Or we represent and claim the size of our social network to show off our popularity.
We also like to be recognized as authority, or being called “experts” in a specific topic.

At the same time, Bourdieu’s theory highlights the tendency of symbolic capital to be expressed by forcing these symbols upon other people, that is: symbolic violence.

Symbolic Violence

This purpose of this violence, the pressure to show off symbols, is simply the need for preserving one’s status quo. In other words, it is an attempt to keep the achieved power as well as trying to increase it.

This violence is not physical and can be expressed in many ways. A CEO who dresses up to show his job position to his employees, a journalist who always refer to his “official press badge” when speaking with bloggers at conferences, a prominent job title printed on a corporate business card.

Online symbols are even more important

This need of showing off symbols is even more present online. We expose the feed counter on our blog, we show off how many friends we have on twitter, we highlight our knowledge and former jobs on LinkedIn. There are blogs with more “awards” and badges listed on the sidebar than blogposts in the archive.

The reason for that is very simple: online, people are represented entirely by symbols: avatars, reputation, popularity, credibility. In the blogosphere we are the URL of our blog. On twitter we are completely represented by the username we use to sign our tweets, and the number of follower is the only impartial indicator of our popularity.

Three examples of Symbolic Violence

Social pressure on Farmville

A study called “Cultivated Play: Farmville” states that “Farmville players keep on playing the game not because of the engagement of the game but because of social pressure to keep on playing” and also that “Farmville is popular because it entangles users in a web of social obligations.” Social pressure equals symbolic violence.

Look at my brand new iPhone

Think about the huge amount of videos on youtube about iPhone unboxing procedures. What is interesting about unboxing a brand new iphone? It is nothing special, unless you are the first one in the world to do that. But it is all about showing off your status symbol.

I want a better sword

The third evidence is the huge growing trend in a very special market: Virtual Goods. +40% per year. Only in the US the market volume is estimated to reach 2.1B$ in 2011. People are spending huge money to dress up their avatars, buying them new items, pimp up their digital possessions. We spend real money to generate virtual symbols.


Do we really want companies that will only listen to us if we are popular on twitter, or services that work better only for those who shout more loudly? I don’t think so.

Companies aiming at professionalism have to serve each and every customer in a fair way. Fair treatment does not necessarily mean that “all are treated the same”. Instead, it means “equally good”, as excellently explained by Valeria Maltoni in a recent blogpost on Conversation Agent.

A professional Customer Service department will not rank people according to the number of their followers on twitter.

Thus, as a user, if you indeed want to obtain assistance from a Customer Service Department, ask questions, then show that you care and require them to be professional. Claim your rights in a clear way because they owe you a service, independently of your popularity.

[UPDATE]: Enjoy the video of this presentation!

Picture Credit: Teymur Madjderey