It has been a long time since I wanted to start a startup journal about my innovation travels. I was born in Umbria, in the middle of Italy. At that time we didn’t know a lot of things. There were only a handful of TV channels, the Internet was not a thing yet and we could be reached only by landline. Before you start to wonder how old I am, it was the year 1979.

I have always been a curious kid, wanting to learn everything. I was an avid reader and spent most of my time wondering about fantastic worlds with princesses, dragons, and knights. The ’80s were the decade of the anime on the TV and I grew with Candy Candy, Hokuto no Ken, Dragon Ball.

I was not an easy child; I preferred to be alone than playing with other children, especially because most of the time I couldn’t understand them and vice-versa. At that time we didn’t use the word bullying. Kids got rough with you and you got upset? You were a pussy. Kids isolated you at school? Probably your fault. Talking to teachers was useless. They don’t like problematic children so you’re by yourself. University was like a Renaissance for me. I was out of home, out of the judgment of my peers, and I felt finally free.

I understood that it’s not bad to be different and to accept that if you don’t conform to the masses, you will always be seen as “other”.

That’s true also for your love life. I got lucky with a boy next door guy, but like everything in life, comes a time where you have to make difficult choices. I was fed up with putting a mask and trying to be a docile, dumb girl. At 27 years old, in 2006, I left my home and relocated to Milan. I can’t find the words to explain how profoundly different from my reality in Umbria it was. First of all, if you’ve ever been to Milan, you know that everyone runs. Where you may ask. It doesn’t matter! You have to run because you can’t lose time. You have so many balls to juggle that every second count. There are expectations to fit in: you have to be fashionable, career-oriented and always updated on the latest trends.

It was a steep learning curve for me. It was there that I first heard about startups. I really got passionate about them. However, at the time I was working as an employee. I was not comfortable enough to jump and going solo. In 2014 I decided I was ready to make big changes in my career, after years as an executive assistant. If you’re Italian, you know that once you got stuck in a job role, nothing can change your trajectory.

I was willing to take a risk and I enrolled in an Executive MBA at MIP-Politecnico of Milan. Studying while working was not easy. After a 10-hour shift, I had almost every evening a long call with my EMBA colleagues to discuss and prepare our group exams. When I got a new job back in Umbria attending my classes became more stressful. Yet I persevered and got my degree.

I missed a lot the life I had in Milan, especially regarding the opportunities it offered.

I delved into a project I was working when I was still in Milan and in 2017 I founded with some friends the association Umbria Business Group. Its mission is to bring innovation and new ways of entrepreneurship in Umbria. We organize public events with expert speakers to discuss personal branding, social selling, cybersecurity, crowdfunding, etc.

I met a lot of interesting people and I am proud to say that many guys from Umbria are successful in their lives. But most of them are living outside our region or their company market is not here. I’d love to do something about it, but it’s not in my power to change Umbria macroeconomy. However, I can give them a voice and let people know that there’s not an only crisis and an aging population. There are many young people with dreams, courageous enough to work for a different life than the one our society expects for them.

There are many young people with dreams, courageous enough to work for a different life than the one our society expects for them.

Life happens and I decided that was time for me too to do what I love: share my knowledge and support people reach their dreams. My mum always complains that I should have a paid line because through the year I received many calls from friends and colleagues asking for my input. I started researching if a job existed that included most of my skills and knowledge. It took some months-long reflections. But I found that I got many characteristics in common with a mentor. However, the main exception was about a career or job mentor. I was more business-oriented as my EMBA demonstrated and I started to reflect if I could get a living from strategic mentoring. I listed what I needed to learn new or upgrade, and designed the step to reach where I wanted to go.

So here I am, in a train back to Milan in full COVID panic to work on my first startup idea with a friend. I will get back soon to tell you about my most interesting meetings and activities in 2020. Stay tuned and send me a request if you want to connect on LinkedIn.

Read another episode of my journey!