7 life changing goals I achieved in 2014

2014 has been a golden year for me as I’ve managed to achieve a number of life changing goals in the past 12 months.

life changing goals, goals achieved, achievements, hero, good intentions

I skipped writing down my annual good intentions in early January 2014, but maybe that’s what made it such a lucky and memorable year for me.

The life changing goals that I managed to achieve affected both my personal and professional life in fantastic ways.

Here are 7 of my most memorable achievements from 2014.

1. Back to workout

I’m finally back to doing my workouts again. The doctors have allowed me to lift weights and take regular trips to the gym, but I still have to avoid impact exercises like running. If you can recall my endless injury, you’ll know that it’s pretty clear that it doesn’t matter if I still can’t run, the main achievement is that I’m moving my body again.

I joined the gym at the end of August when my body weight was 43 kg (94 pounds) and I felt pretty powerless. My muscles were “asleep”. Over the next 6 weeks I managed to gain 2.5 cm (almost one inch) in my arms, 1 cm (0.3 inches) on my legs and hips, and I lost 1 cm (0.3 inches) on my waist. After 4 months I had gained a whole 5 kg (105 pounds) of muscle and I now have enough strength to lift a handbag and place it into an aircraft luggage compartment. I feel better, I’m happier, and most of all I haven’t lost the hope that I can eventually return to running again.

2. I switched jobs

left my Running Jedi role at Decathlon to become the SEO Lead for Wauwaa, an online destination for new parents and growing families. I got the job thanks to a collaboration of my personal achievements as a mystery fiction author and self-publisher (see below), and the fact that I acted so natural because I had no idea that one of my interviewers was the CEO himself.

3. Books, books, books (and ebooks)

Not only have I managed to read almost one book a week, but I’ve also achieved great goals as a mystery fiction author too. Only a year after my first flash fiction experiment with my detective (super) short stories collection, I’ve written and published many more books. After Cutting Right to the Chase and Into the Killer Sphere were published,  2014 saw Cutting Right to the Chase Vol.2 and Pull the Trigger on the Amazon Kindle Store.

And I’m proud to say that my audience received my titles very well. I’m particularly impressed by the reviews that Pull the Trigger received after less than one month of publication. 50 reviews (and counting!), all with 4 – 5 stars ratings. What a great success. And what does an author want more other than to get back to the writing desk to craft another success? Cutting Right to the Chase Vol.3 is in progress already.

4. Leading a team

At Wauwaa my role not only revolves around SEO. I also manage the copywriting team and I’m heavily involved in the product creation process in the ecommerce area. It’s more of a covering role, but it’s a responsibility that I’m more than happy to have taken on. The copywriting team is made up of a small group of extremely talented and young individuals.

My role not only requires me to manage and coordinate other employees and resources, but also puts me in the spotlight as a role model for these awesome youngsters. I must admit that it’s not a walk in the park, but that’s what pushes me to be balanced in my decisions and choices. They watch and learn from me every day. 

5. (re)discovering Yoga

Yoga plays a crucial part in my long recovery from my injury as the weights workout at the gym make my muscle fibres stronger, but shorter and less flexible. Every time I end a yoga session I feel emotionally drained but Yoga is a discipline that “opens” the body and the mind, bringing myself to a deeper level of consciousness. Sometimes though I hate yoga for that very reason: what you see and feel when you practice yoga is – more than often – what you have been running away from during the whole week prior.

6. Embracing positivity

I’m sorry to say that I’ve recently been hanging around some pretty negative people, which have influenced my point of view. My focus of 2014 has been to “clean up” and review my perspectives, embracing positivity. I must say that seeing the glass half full is quite a tough exercise, although very useful in many aspects of my life, especially work.

7. Planning a new future

The above achievements, and many others not mentioned, have determined that my London settling-in phase is now officially closed. Franz and I came here in the UK determined but unsure of what we would eventually find. Now that I have found what I have been looking for, and I’ve nailed my goals, it’s time to unlock some more achievements, plan more, and go ever further. Look out 2015, here I come!

What about your 2014? Have you managed to achieve some life changing goals throughout the year?


Parenting a reborn doll – being a mother for a weekend

What if you ended up looking after a robot baby during the weekend? It happened to me and my partner a couple of weeks ago.

being father, fatherhood, baby robot, reborn doll, being parentsYes, weird things may happen to anyone, and this time it’s up to me. The start-up company I work for decided to give the people who are not parents yet reborn dolls to look after for a whole weekend.

First reaction: NO. FREAKING. WAY.
Second reaction (after having ask my CMO if we would get fired if refusing the task – his answer was a subtle “I don’t know”, lol): OK. Maybe I can do it.

I’ve never seriously thought of parenting and having a baby until the moment this baby robot activated. My weekend changes ever since. I planned to go here and there in London and I actually I managed to accomplish all my planned stuff, but it was different. Way different.

Here’s part of the report I wrote for Wauwaa Biz website about my reborn doll experience.
You can read the rest by clicking on the link below.

baby robot, reborn dolls, maternity, parenting, being parents, become mother, “I deal with products for parents and growing families every day. I know every word and item that mums need to know. And yet I didn’t know what our customers’ lives look like and how they get by with their kids.

Wauwaa gave all their childless employees a reborn doll, active from Friday at 6PM until Sunday at 10AM. The entire 6.5 lbs of weight on the baby doll is distributed like in a real infant, with its head heavier than the rest of the body. I said once that I was not ready to be a mum, and little has changed since then. So you can imagine my excitement at receiving the reborn doll!

Along with the robot baby they gave us a feeding bottle, two nappies and two wristbands. Both nappies and wristbands have a magnet that reacts when it makes contact with the doll’s belly, simulating a parents soothing voice and reassuring the child of their presence. We received soft organic slings from Babylonia to transport the baby outside (and yes, I walked around London with the reborn doll).

Weekend mission: do not kill the thing.”

Click here to continue reading about parenting reborn dolls

Baby robot: genitori per 48 ore (ecco com’è andata)

La mia azienda ha fornito a tutti gli impiegati senza figli un neonato robot di 3 mesi da accudire durante il fine settimana. Ecco come è andato il mio weekend da mamma.

baby robot, esperimento sociale, maternità, genitori, essere genitori, diventare madre, simulazione genitoriTutti i giorni ho a che fare per lavoro con prodotti per neonati, bambini e madri. Conosco ormai qualsiasi termine e oggetto che non deve mancare in maternità e nei primi anni di un bambino. Eppure, non ho la minima idea di quello che le nostre clienti vivono ogni giorno, come se la cavano con i loro figli.

Così, Wauwaa ha consegnato a tutti gli impiegati senza figli un baby robot programmato per attivarsi alle 18:00 del venerdì, per spegnersi poi alle 10 della successiva domenica mattina.
I baby robot pesano circa 3,5kg e il loro peso è distribuito proprio come in un neonato vero, ossia con la testa più pesante del resto del corpo. Una volta ho detto che non ero pronta per fare la madre, e la cosa non è cambiata. Figuratevi con quanta gioia ho accolto questo bambolotto.

Assieme al baby robot ci sono stai forniti: un biberon, due pannolini e due braccialetti. Sia i pannolini che i braccialetti hanno un magnete che reagisce se appoggiato alla pancia del bambolotto, a simulare la voce del genitore che indica la sua presenza al bambino quando inizia a piangere. Inoltre, Babylonia ci ha fornito una comoda fascia porta-bimbi in cotone organico che mi sarebbe stata utile per muovermi fuori da casa (sì, ho avuto il coraggio di andare in giro per Londra con il baby robot).

Missione del fine settimana: non uccidere il baby robot. Siamo stati istruiti su come sostenere la testa del bambolotto – perché i neonati non hanno il collo abbastanza robusto per sostenerla da soli – e buona fortuna.

baby robot, essere genitori, esperimento sociale, essere madre, maternità, simulazione genitoriDato che il bambolotto non poteva assomigliare nè a me nè al mio partner, abbiamo deciso di mettergli qualcosa che ci rappresentasse entrambi. Il mio CEO ha riconosciuto subito il mio baby robot in mezzo a tutti gli altri. “Si vede proprio che tuo figlio è italiano”, mi ha detto, “É il meglio vestito.”
Il mio baby robot indossava una tutina Absorba e un cardigan Zip Zap fatto a maglia (con cappuccio strategico per nascondere il viso di plastica in giro). Il tocco del mio partner è stata una spilletta di WordPress, dato che Franz lavora per un’agenzia VIP di WordPress.

Stavo facendo FaceTime con i miei genitori quando il baby robot si è attivato. E ovviamente si è messo a piangere strillare. Forte.
Prima reazione: panico. Non ci aspettavamo che il baby robot si accendesse e piangesse subito. Ho avvicinato il braccialetto alla pancia, ma non reagiva. Volume del pianto del baby robot: +1000.
“Pannolino!” urlo a Franz, che mi passa il biberon perché non trova il pannolino.
Ok, il biberon va bene lo stesso: magari ha fame. Sbagliato. Volume del pianto del baby robot: +2000.
Franz trova il pannolino, me lo passa: nulla. Non funziona manco quello.
Livello panico: +3000. Volume del pianto del robot: +5000.
Intimo a Franz di chiudere FaceTime con i miei genitori, che nel frattempo erano entrati in una fase di apnea isterica per il troppo ridere. Prendo il baby robot in braccio che sembra calmarsi per qualche secondo, per poi aumentare il volume del pianto a +10000.

É andata così più o meno tutto il fine settimana. Abbiamo imparato in poco tempo a riconoscere i diversi pianti del baby robot: il pianto della fame è diverso da quello di quando vuole fare il ruttino o di quando si vuole cambiato.
A volte piangeva solo perché si voleva in braccio o cullato, proprio come un bambino vero.

Cosa ho imparato da questo fine settimana da robot madre?

essere padre, paternità, baby robot, esperimento sociale, diventare papà – I bambini ti cambiano la vita. E quando la gente lo dice, ho capito perché. Puoi fare esattamente le stesse cose che facevi prima dell’arrivo del neonato, solo che le fai diversamente. Anche una cosa banale come andare al pub con gli amici è stata un’esperienza diversa.
– Gli autisti degli autobus ti fanno salire anche se non sei alla fermata.

– La gente in metro o nei treni ti fa sedere, ma tante volte sono troppo distratti da altro (telefono, libri, o… sonno) che non ti notano.

– Non importa cosa fai o non fai, certe volte i bambini piangono senza motivo.

– Non importa che braccialetto hai, il baby robot si calma quasi sempre solo in braccio a Franz.

– Le madri hanno quelle facce lì perché non dormono. Non. Dormono. Mai.

– Se avessi mai avuto (ma non ne avevo) qualche dubbio sul mio percorso di vita con Franz, adesso ne ho zero. Un altro uomo non avrebbe preso mai sul serio questo esperimento, lui invece si è comportato proprio come se il baby robot fosse vero. Questo mi ha fatto capire che se un giorno avremo un bambino non robot potrò contare sulle sue braccia calmanti.

La cosa più importante, comunque, è che non abbiamo ucciso il baby robot, e siamo riusciti anche a non farlo mai piangere di dolore (es. non supportando la testa).
Domenica mattina il baby robot ha emesso un verso di gioia prima di spegnersi. Come se ci volesse ringraziare. E ci è venuta quasi la tristezza. Poi ci siamo ricordati la faccia preoccupata del signore affianco a noi al pub quando ho messo il baby robot sulla panca a faccia in giù e ci è passata la tristezza.

Why I leave Decathlon for an ecommerce start up

Have you ever tried to take a risk? I did it, and I ended up working as a SEO Manager for an ecommerce start up in London.

multinational corporation - ecommerce start up1 year and 10 months. 673 days. That is the amount of time I spent at Decathlon UK Campus in London, working part-time as a Running Specialist. Decathlon has been the first place where I dropped my CV and had my first job interview in London. I was picked straight away, thanks to what I learnt in many years of athletics. After 673 days, it was the right time for a career change.


Here are the reasons why I left Decathlon for another job:

– No career progression: although I’ve had some chances to become a department manager, I am not interested in a shop floor retail career. On the other hand, the Head Office doors were all closed to me, apparently with no plausible reasons.

– Routinary job: 600 and more Gait Analysis were more than enough to lose motivation. Even though helping runners to find the best gear is somehow rewarding, I simply got bored.

– Physical duties: working along the very, very long Decathlon aisles is such a physical job. From March 25th, my Jawbone bracelet tracked more than 1500 km (932 miles!) walked on the shop floor. Let’s throw in also all the heavy weights lifted up during deliveries and all the steps I took whilst going up and down the layout (I am 5 feet, the step ladder has been my best friend). My endless injury (finally now in recovery) didn’t help, for the record.

I loved and hated Decathlon at the same time. The ever-changing shop floor gang has always been friendly and pleasant. On the other hand, I think that there is a major lack of presence and organisation from the national operational centre, which makes everyone’s job pointlessly complicated and hard to optimise. I also feel that sometimes the UK Campus Store Manager – a nice guy who’s very good at his job – has his hands tied up and can’t do anything.

What’s my next quest now?

I love SEO. Challenging and cooperating with search engines is a subtle and delicate art. You have to make web pages attractive to search engines and in the same time be human friendly.

I started developing my SEO skills writing here on Daily Pinner blog, then evolving my knowledge through my crime author website and Chase Williams. Mostly, I worked on the Amazon pages of my mystery fiction ebooks. I made tons of mistakes, learned from the SEO gurus, started seeing the first results and mentored fellow authors and friends with their own businesses. I am still reading and experimenting every day. Eventually I took my decision: I wanted to become a full-time SEO specialist. That’s why I’ve been searching and seeking everywhere until I found what I was looking for.

Last June 6th I started working for Wauwaa during my Decathlon days off. Wauwaa is an ecommerce boutique of baby products, maternity essentials and kidswear. After a few weeks I’ve been promoted SEO Lead. In the next few hours, my role as SEO Manager will turn permanent and full time. I joined the company as an intern and now I am (almost) a 100% pure Wauwaa employee. Wow. Wauwaa is on its start-up phase, but everyone is very positive about the company evolution since we’re growing exponentially. We are all working hard and I am very happy for the trust that the whole Wauwaa team, CEO and COO heading, have put in my SEO skills.

The best thing of Wauwaa is that it’s not a conventional ecommerce like many others in the baby retail market. Wauwaa is also a hub where mothers and fathers can find several parenting hacks and is becoming a point of reference and information on kids and parents’ world. Wauwaa’s content area features a number of blogs and videos useful also for whom is not a fresh new parent anymore.

At the end of the day, I’ll be working in the retail field, I’ve just moved my actions from the first line to behind the scenes, always making sure that people can find the best products and resources according to their personal needs.

For three months I worked 6 or 7 days out of 7, doing 12 hours of physiotherapy every single week and moving around London with 5kg of backpack on my tiny shoulders. I can’t deny that sometimes it’s been something really hard to cope with. I quit my job in a multinational corporation to embrace the startup culture. And I feel good, full of life, with a lot of energy and the will to improve myself in every aspect.

Don’t be scared of taking risks in your life and changing your career, take what life is going to deliver you with positivity and you will reap the fruits of your sacrifices.